Tuesday 4th July 2023.

July 3, 2023


The sixth day of the hearing began with the presentation of the arguments of the lawyer Diva Pinzón , defender of nine of the 32 defendants for alleged money laundering, in the Lava Jato case: Yadira de Boutaud, Carmen Wong, Jaqueline Alexander Parrales, Yvette Rogers , Verna de Nelson, Ray Taylor, George Allen, José Meléndez and Giselle Ocampo, for whom he requested an acquittal.

Pinzón alleged that her clients were only nominal directors of companies created and sold by the forensic firm Mossack Fonseca , therefore, according to her, they did not maintain any control over them and were not the final beneficiaries.

It also alleged that the Second Specialized Prosecutor’s Office against Organized Crime has tried to link its clients with the commission of the crime of money laundering, without proving the existence of a preceding crime. Nor has the fraudulent action of any of their clients been proven and where they hid the funds.

The same alleged Yeskelle Pedroza, lawyer for Ricardo Samaniego, Yenny Martínez Dutari, Leticia Montoya, Francis Pérez, Imogene Wilson, Hercibelle González and Yakeline Pérez Barría. She points out that although her clients were the nominal directors of the corporations that were allegedly used as part of the money-laundering network, that does not make them criminals.

Pedroza alleged that the prosecution did not present documents that reveal a continuous criminal act.

In addition, she criticized the reports presented by the Judicial Investigation Directorate (DIJ), since -according to her- they were prepared by personnel who did not have the necessary training.

She said that the testimony by Adolfo Linares, an expert in corporate law, clarified the competencies of the nominee directors, since it is a figure of common use and that, according to Linares, all lawyers in Panama use.

The former President of the Republic, Juan Carlos Varela (2014-2019), has failed in a last attempt to prevent his appearance in the trial for the bribes that Odebrecht paid in Panama between 2010 and 2014.

The Supreme Court of Justice did not admit an amparo of constitutional guarantees presented by Erasmo Muñoz , Varela’s lawyer, against a resolution of the Second Liquidating Court that rejected an appeal for annulment for lack of jurisdiction in this case.

The ruling of the Court, dated June 15, 2023 and under the presentation of Judge Olmedo Arrocha, details that in this case the pertinent legal remedies have not been exhausted.

The plenary session of the Court maintains that the protection of constitutional guarantees is an extraordinary resource that is presented as a result of the violation of fundamental guarantees, after the person has used the procedural alternatives that the law offers in the ordinary way, for the restitution of rights allegedly violated.

According to the Court, what is appropriate is for the plaintiff to exhaust the remedies before the Second Court for Settlement of Causes before going to higher instances.

In addition, it states that in the situation raised by the lawyer Muñoz in his amparo, there is no seriousness that makes it impossible for the matter to be resolved by the first instance judge.

The amparo presented by Muñoz was against the decision adopted by the second liquidator judge of criminal cases, Baloisa Marquínez , on November 7, 2022, to reject an annulment motion for lack of jurisdiction.

According to Muñoz, the process for alleged money laundering against his client began when he was a member of the Central American Parliament ( Parlacen ). Although he has never been sworn in, Muñoz alleges that Varela belongs to that body, as former president of the Republic.

Odebrecht’s trial should begin on August 1 . With Varela, there is another accused ex-president, Ricardo Martinelli , as well as his two sons and several of his ministers.

A criminal judge sentenced Gustavo Pérez and Giacomo Tamburrelli to 120 months in prison for the loss of one of the wiretapping machines used by the National Security Council (CSN) during the government of Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) to spy on businessmen , magistrates, journalists and opposition politicians.

The first judge to liquidate criminal cases, Agueda Rentería , also disqualified them from exercising public functions for the same term, once the prison sentence for embezzlement has been completed.

Although the ruling was adopted on March 10, it was communicated by edict on June 29, in order to notify all parties.

The missing machine was acquired in 2012 from the Israeli company MLM Protection, for $13 million, managed through the Social Assistance Directorate (DAS) , then directed by Tamburrelli. At that time, the director of the CSN was Pérez. It is unknown what happened to the team as of July 1, 2014, when Martinelli left the Presidency of the Republic.

In this case, there are two people on the run: former CSN agents, Ronny Rodríguez and William Pittí , indicated by various witnesses as the officials in charge of operating the equipment from the CSN. Both were declared in absentia and for them the terms of the prescription of the criminal action were suspended, waiting for them to be located and prosecuted.

Pérez already has a 50-month prison sentence, recently confirmed by the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice, for the interception of telecommunications without judicial authorization. Alejandro Garuz, another director of the CSN in the Martinelli government, was also sentenced for this case.

For political espionage in his government, Martinelli was acquitted.

Three officials of the Authority for the Protection of Consumers and Defense of Competition (Acodeco) were apprehended over the weekend for allegedly having solicited bribes.

According to reports, these three people − who worked as “verifiers” − carried out surprise operations in a mini-supermarket in Arraiján, province of Panama Oeste, “on a Saturday and after hours.”

“Acodeco strongly rejects and condemns any act that violates ethics and legality in the exercise of its functions. Our commitment is to ensure the protection of consumer rights and promote fair competition in the market, always within the established legal framework,” the entity said in a statement.

Acodeco also indicated that it will collaborate with the other authorities in the investigations of this case.

“We will be attentive to the progress and results of the investigation, and we will keep the community informed about the measures adopted,” the statement said.

In a few days it will be three months since the Cabinet Council declared an environmental emergency on April 11 at the Cerro Patacón sanitary landfill, in the township of Ancón, and the situation has not changed much.

Residents of the area point out that as a consequence of the rains, the leachate emanating from the sanitary landfill runs without any type of control towards the Kuna Nega community, one of the most populated in the area.

Precisely, the environmental emergency was to intervene, so that the environmental disaster that extends some 10 thousand hectares around the waste disposal center of the districts of Panama and San Miguelito could be mitigated and restored.

On the issue of environmental management, Susana Serracín, part of the Alliance for Conservation and Development, stressed that what happens in the landfill is a complex issue that cannot be resolved overnight.

Her diagnosis was clear: “I think that the authorities are letting time pass, since in what is left of this government they will not be able to solve anything and they are leaving it for the next administration. I consider that it is utterly irresponsibility of the Government to not look for a solution to this environmental problem”.

Serracin described what is being done on Cerro Patacón as a “patch” or a “band-aid”. “They are putting a Band-Aid on Cerro Patacón,” she lamented.

In her opinion, this problem should be seen in a comprehensive way and decisions should not be made to get out of trouble. “That includes better waste management throughout the country and that it does not generate pollution,” the lawyer also pointed out.

This week at the Presidency of the Republic a meeting was held to discuss the situation of Cerro Patacón in which a delegation from the Government of South Korea participated.

At the meeting, the Korean delegation presented a preliminary analysis and recommendations after visiting the landfill facilities and after participating in technical meetings with the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Health, and the Urban and Residential Cleaning Authority.

Both parties agreed that a solution should be sought that has the devices and the best technology to dispose of the waste generated in Panama, this, also considering other aspects that involve proper waste management from home. .

In the case of Cerro Patacón, the Asian delegation recommended carrying out a more complete feasibility study and mapping the possible remediation options and new technologies available, depending on the conditions in Panama.

In addition, the signing of an agreement is being considered to subsequently obtain the necessary financing, and immediately begin technical work.


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