Wednesday 16th November 2022.

November 16, 2022

The Third Criminal Case Settlement Court decided to call Adolfo Chichi De Obarrio , who was the private secretary of former President Ricardo Martinelli to trial for the alleged commission of the crimes of money laundering and unjustified enrichment. The third deputy judge Clelia De La Rosa, through an order dated November 14, also ruled to prosecute Ivette Barsallo and Silvana Mancini, ex-wife and mother of De Obarrio, respectively, and María Alejandra Salerno Gómez, for the same crimes. On March 9, 2018, the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office referred the prosecutor’s hearing to the court with a request to summon the four defendants to trial, for their alleged participation in the crimes of unjustified enrichment and money laundering. According to the investigation, an audit report from the Comptroller’s Office states that De Obarrio earned income of more than $3.7 dollars while he was a public official, but could not justify the origin of these funds. The call to trial of De Obarrio and Barsallo occurs at a time when the ex-partner is facing custody of their underage daughter. This Tuesday, November 15, Barsallo told the radio program of journalist Álvaro Alvarado that Judge Matilde Sánchez, of the First Court for Children and Adolescents, ordered that the girl be handed over to her father, in Italy, as part of the international restitution process. Promoted by De Obarrio. Barsallo said that, as part of this process, De Obarrio participated (virtually) in a hearing with Judge Sánchez, despite the fact that he has not appeared in other court cases that follow him; in some of which he has even been declared “in absentia”. On her Instagram account, Barsallo wrote: “I can’t believe it. It is intended to deliver my daughter to those who do not come to face Panamanian justice”. She said that her ex-husband leads a “life of partying and partying”, and that she is unaware of his financial situation, since they were married under the regime of separation of property.

Article 254 of the Criminal Code establishes a range of prison sentences for the crime of money laundering from 5 to 12 years in prison. In principle, this would be the penalty applicable to one of the 36 people called to trial in the Odebrecht case if they are finally found guilty. In the mixed order 9 of 2022, Judge Marquínez qualified the summary prepared by the Public Ministry (through the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office) and responded to all the incidents presented by the defense lawyers.On page 32 of the order, Judge Marquínez responds to the petition and explains how the prescription term is computed in the mixed inquisitive system. As a first step, the judge cited article 1968-B of the Judicial Code , which establishes that the statute of limitations for a crime is equal to the maximum penalty for said crime. Then, the judge mentions article 85 of the Penal Code referring to “continuous crime”, which reads as follows: “ The repeated violation of the same criminal provision is considered a single crime when it reveals that it is the execution of the same criminal purpose. In this case the penalty will be increased from one third to one half ”. In the Odebrecht case, it is an alleged repetition of the alleged crime of money laundering. That is, this criminal case is considered as a continuing crime. Marquínez explains the following on this subject: ” …the crime investigated has a maximum penalty of 12 years in prison… Adding 6 years, the result is 18 years in prison .” By analogy, this would apply to all the other cases of the Odebrecht scandal and even the Blue Apple case, among others.

The Electoral Tribunal (TE) completely closed the process of expulsion and revocation of mandate against 15 deputies of the Cambio Democrático (CD) party. Through edict 64-2022, the TE magistrates announced a ruling in which they confirm in all its parts the resolution of October 10, 2022, issued within the challenge lawsuit promoted by the lawyer Carlos Carrillo Gomila in against resolution 01-22 of June 10, 2022, issued by the Court of Honor and Discipline of CD. The document, dated November 14, 2022, bears the signature of judges Alfredo Juncá, Heriberto Araúz, Eduardo Valdés Escoffery and the entity’s secretary, Myrtha Varela de Durán. This is one of the last performances of Araúz as a magistrate of the TE, who on November 14 left the office that he held for 10 years to make way for his replacement, the lawyer Luis Guerra. It must be remembered that the CD Honor and Disciplinary Tribunal, in the first instance, expelled the “dissident” deputies and revoked their mandate for “treason” to the party. However, last September, the TE approved the annulment and archive of the case that was opened to 15 CD deputies. In the opinion of the TE magistrates, there was a violation of due process. After learning of this decision, the president of CD, Rómulo Roux, announced that he would present an appeal of unconstitutionality before the Supreme Court of Justice.

Despite the voices that point out that bill 907, which reforms the organic law of the Comptroller General of the Republic, approved in October by the National Assembly, would appear to be unconstitutional, one of its promoters does not see it that way.The proposal, which is in the hands of President Laurentino Cortizo, for his veto or sanction, apart from creating the career for the officials of that institution,  contemplates at least four articles that, in the opinion of the lawyer and former official of that entity, Ernesto Cedeño, could promote a “partial veto” by the Executive. These are articles 14, 22, 31 and 46. The lawyer, who sees as positive that a career has been created for the officials of the Comptroller’s Office, stated that the reform would also weaken the entity’s supervisory role. For example, he explained that article 22 seeks to empower the Comptroller to regulate the issue of internal government audits. The functions of the Comptroller’s Office are clear in the Constitution and that is not there, he said. “It violates the principle of separation of power, because internal auditors are officials of the entity that appoints them and they will not be able to be dismissed if they commit something unworthy.” He pointed out Article 14 as an inconvenience, because all officials (including the Comptroller’s Office) are exonerated from a criminal investigation, from an act that originated regardless of whether the institution endorsed it or not. Added to this is article 46, which exonerates Comptrollership officials as management employees in the jurisdiction of accounts.

The Mayor’s Office of Panama will allocate some 5.7 million dollars for the Christmas parade and lighting, for the end of the year holidays. The mayor of the district of Panama, José Luis Fábrega, said that the Christmas parade –scheduled for next December 11– will cost 2.8 million dollars. The company that was hired for this is Festieventos.Meanwhile, the lighting of 33 sites in the district of Panama will cost 2.9 million dollars and will be under the responsibility of the Contraseñas company.  In both cases, the contracts have been made directly, taking into account the proximity of the celebrations, the mayor said at a press conference. It was the announcement of the activities alluding to the season Let’s Dream Panama, Christmas is here!, which will start from December 1 to January 6, 2023. The mayor also reported that 450 temporary sales stalls were confirmed around the sites that will be decorated.Another 150 stalls have been authorized to be located on the parade route, which will begin (from 4:00 pm) at the Seafood Market and end on the coastal strip (Paitilla). That day the presentation of 12 floats is expected, in addition to the same number of delegations, including musical bands and special presentations.

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