wednesday 13th September 2023.

September 12, 2023


The Comptroller of the Republic, Gerardo Solís , assured that in his administration “not a single audit has been shelved.”

“I am going to tell you that since the law [351 of 2022] was approved, do you know how many audits I, as comptroller, using my discretion of sound judgment, have filed? Zero, not one, nothing. All of them are ongoing,” Solís said this Tuesday, in the Budget Commission of the National Assembly, while supporting the budget recommended by the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) to the Comptroller’s Office for 2024, which amounts to $136.1 million.

Solís responded to deputy Juan Diego Vásquez , who questioned him about Law 351 of 2022, which modifies the organic law of the Comptroller General of the Republic (Law 32 of 1984) and the law that adopts the jurisdiction of accounts in the country ( Law 67 of 2008).

Weeks ago, the judge of the Court of Accounts, Alberto Cigarruista , said the following: “The Comptroller’s Office sent us between 12 and 15 files [audits] per month and, so far this year, it has only sent us 14. “There will come a time, if this continues like this, that we will not have work in the Court of Accounts.”

However, the comptroller denied these allegations and assured that the judges of the Court of Accounts were referring to a specific point of the organic law of the Comptroller’s Office, which has already been eliminated, “because they were right, honorable deputy.”

”To say that because Comptroller Law 351 allows the comptroller to file, it is not what has caused audits to be sent to the Court of Accounts. It is a mistake, it is an incorrectness,” he stated.

He added that “there is a finite human capacity to perform audits. With the human team and the personnel we have, we could reasonably produce good audits, about 90 audits a year.”

During his intervention in the Budget Committee, he explained that in his period “we have ordered 567 audits. We have 377 pending from local governments and the Executive; 238 are in execution; 185 have been delivered to the entities that have requested it, and 145 have been ordered to start.”

Regarding the fact that the Comptroller’s Office does not accept the audit requests of the Public Ministry, Solís expressed that “we are reviewing that information, because, in effect, we are aware of that communication that was made and we are reviewing it with the audits that are arranged.”

This Tuesday, the First Settlement Court for Criminal Cases suspended the trial of 17 people, including the former director of the National Aid Program (PAN) , Rafael Guardia Jaén , for the alleged commission of the crime of money laundering.

The decision was adopted after the court did not resolve the evidence order to be used during the trial, which was scheduled to be held between September 12 and 14.

The court has not yet defined what date the trial will now take place.

Judicial sources explained that some of the defense lawyers presented a plural number of documentary and testimonial evidence that had not been admitted by the court, which led to the suspension of the trial.

Among those called to trial are Rafael Guardia Jaén and his children Lorraine Brigitte Guardia Juárez and Jonathan Guardia Andrión , who, according to the prosecution, created companies and cashed checks to acquire movable and immovable property with PAN funds.

Also among those called to trial are the former PAN purchasing chief, Rafael Williams, as well as Charles Sadat Bonilla, Javier Óscar Cachafeiro, Mónica Andrade, Carlos Ramos, Mónica Peralta, Rosa González, Boris Zeballos and Pacífico González, among others.

In this case, the prosecution alleged that the crime preceding money laundering was embezzlement and that this was consummated through the assignment of contracts through the PAN, some of which were overpriced or were not fully executed.

Guardia Jaén reached a collaboration agreement and a sentence of 60 months in prison, after providing the prosecutor with information in the 12 investigations opened for different anomalies in the management of PAN funds.

José Alberto “Toto” Álvarez, the president of the Social Independent Alternative Party (PAIS) , has now remained a spectator in an electoral alliance that he promoted for months: the Democratic Change (CD) and the Panameñista, which for the moment have excluded him .

For this reason, Álvarez has opened the pace and has three alternatives for the elections of May 5, 2024. One is to seek an alliance with the Popular Party (or with the independent coalitions), with whose leadership he will hold a meeting this Tuesday. The other two options are for PAIS to compete alone or to return with the CD and the Panameñista, although he himself admits that this last option is the most remote.

The year 2022 registered a record number of deaths and disappearances of migrants throughout the American continent, with at least 1,457, almost half of them (686) registered on the border between the United States and Mexico, as reported this Tuesday by the International Organization for Migrations (IOM).

The number of victims on the continent exceeds those registered in 2021 (1,316) by 10% and before that year there had never been more than 900 confirmed deaths and missing persons, the IOM indicates in a report that uses data from its Missing Migrants Project. which since 2014 has been constantly monitoring victims on migratory routes around the planet.

In addition to the 686 dead or missing on the northern Mexican border, another 257 victims were recorded last year on the sea route to the United States through the Caribbean, 141 in the Panamanian Darien Gap (which connects South America with Central America) and 104 between Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

Since IOM began this monitoring project 10 years ago, at least 4,664 deaths and disappearances have been recorded on the border between the United States and Mexico, 499 on the Caribbean route to the United States, 328 between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico and 320 in the Darien gap.

The two-day strike called by some unions in the public health system caused the loss of at least 11,000 laboratory appointments and affected other services in the Social Security Fund (CSS).

The information was provided by the general secretary of the CSS, Edwin Salamín, who said that “it was not a medical strike, it was a strike by some sectors that supported the Amoacss (Association of Doctors, Dentists and Related Professionals of the Insurance Fund). Social) and Conalac (National College of Clinical Laboratories of Panama), the rest of the services of the CSS and the Minsa, continued working.”

Salamín reiterated the call for this Wednesday, September 13, for the dialogue table agreed upon with the majority of the health unions, at the headquarters of the Administration Attorney’s Office, in Los Llanos de Curundú, township of Ancón.

“There are countless health aspirations, but there are also economic aspirations. “That is an issue that we will deal with with great responsibility, because the Fund’s resources are finite,” he highlighted.

At the meeting, they discussed the roadmap agreed upon last week in a “broad and democratic” manner to address the various issues raised.

On September 8, Banesco Holding Latin America and its local subsidiary Banesco Panama presented a request for arbitration against the Republic of Panama before the International Center for Settlement of Disputes ( ICSID ) related to investments, an agency linked to the World Bank.

The reason for the arbitration is due to the “improper” execution of performance bonds for a series of infrastructure works, according to the newspaper El País, for which they cite alleged violations by Panama of the Bilateral Investment Protection Treaty.

The amount claimed has not been revealed yet.

According to sources consulted by El País , the claim arises from the alleged “extemporaneous” execution of bonds by entities such as the Ministry of Housing and Territorial Planning (Miviot) and the Ministry of Education (Meduca), among others. “These entities did not supervise their works in time, nor did they activate their claim mechanisms against the main obligors, and after five years they have demanded expired coverage,” the media reported.

Banesco is represented in the process by the firm Clifford Chance , based in Madrid, Spain, while the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) must respond for Panama.


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