Wednesday 28th June 2023.

June 27, 2023


The second day of the trial of the Lava Jato case began this Tuesday, with the presentation of the authorized public accountant José Ángel Almanza Navarro, a witness requested by the Second Prosecutor’s Office against Organized Crime.

Almanza, who was deputy commissioner, worked for 26 years in the Money Laundering Department of the Judicial Investigation Directorate (DIJ), until he retired last year.

The witness said that he prepared a financial performance report on the activities of the Mossack Fonseca firm. The preliminary report was prepared with information provided by the Public Ministry, as the investigations progressed and the responses from the judicial assistance sent by Brazil arrived. He maintains that his report “simply” left a record of the traceability of the money that, according to the prosecution, was laundered by the defendants.

“We traced the money from one account to other accounts”, and he stressed that his report is not a “forensic audit”, since this work is the responsibility of the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences (Imelcf).

Almanza confirmed that he made a report on the transactions carried out by Banco Do Brasil to Moossack Fonseca between 2013 and 2015, a period in which he transferred the sum of $2.3 million.

The expert was ratified in the report prepared in 2018, which details that the defendant María Mercedes Riaño obtained benefits from these transfers. Riaño managed the office of Mossack Fonseca do Brasil , a company registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in 2009.

The final action report prepared by Almanza and by Major José Inés Gil concluded that, according to the analysis carried out, Riaño has assets for $197,279.51 and income for $113,948.49, “remaining to justify the sum of $83,331.02”.

The DIJ report warned of a triangulation of money through different bank accounts trying to hide its origin and avoid the trace of the money and that this is a modality used by organizations to hide the true origin of the funds.

Almanza was also questioned by Julio Macías , from the forensic firm Castro & Castro , lawyer for the accused Riaño. Questioned by Macías, Almanza said he did not know the amounts or rates charged by Mossack Fonseca, “through the intermediary of the offices in Brazil.” However, the witness remarked that there were no “supports” to justify the inflow of money. “There are no parameters. It was simply received and sent… There has to be a record [in an accounting system], money cannot be sent just like that,” he stressed.

The Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (Cciap) launched on the morning of Tuesday, its project Agenda País 2024-2029, in which presidential candidates accredited until now by the Electoral Tribunal, members of the society organized civil society, presidents of political parties and leaders of the business union.

At the event, the participants were able to hear from the president of the Cciap, Adolfo Fábrega, what this Country Agenda consists of, which will be delivered to the presidential candidates who will compete for the country’s presidential seat in the 2024 general elections.

Said project will start on August 16 with a series of thematic forums on the subject of education, health and well-being, bureaucracy and corruption, water and sustainability, and employment and entrepreneurship.

In the opinion of the business sector, it is necessary for these issues to be debated and also to find solutions, in order to achieve the well-being of all Panamanians.

“The Government has shown that it is willing to use any number of millions of Panamanian dollars for political activities.”

This is how the presidential candidate of the Otro Camino Movement (Moca), Ricardo Lombana , reacted, after learning that, despite the criticism, the Government of Laurentino Cortizo has not stopped the flow of public funds for friends and allies and ordered payments of $18 million as part of the parallel decentralization.

Lombana made the caveat that this has also occurred in previous government administrations and that they only change the name. He cited, for example, the case of form 080, form 172, and now this has been called “parallel decentralization.” “The model is repeated under different names,” he remarked.

The Moca presidential candidate stressed that it is about “millions of dollars from all Panamanians for funds for political activities.” “More serious is that those who are in office to stop this don’t do it,” he said.

For this reason, he reiterated the call both to comptroller Gerardo Solís − and who, in Lombana’s opinion, appears to be a PRD activist” − and to electoral prosecutor Dilio Arcia to carry out the proper investigations.

Another presidential candidate who referred to the issue of the continuity of the delivery of money through parallel decentralization was José Isabel Blandón, from the Panameñista Party, who asked comptroller Solís to carry out the pertinent investigations, since “it is a significant sum of money, which does not belong to the Government but to all Panamanians”.

Blandón made it clear that he believes in decentralization “but that it go equally and impartially to all local governments”, with specific powers and supervision of the Comptroller General and the community.

The presidential candidate of the Panameñista Party also said that he hopes that “all those who have not made good use of the resources” are brought to justice and sentenced.

The statements of both were given in the midst of their participation in the launch of the Country Agenda 2024 – 2029 by the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama, ahead of the 2024 general elections.

“With this video I want to put on record that a few minutes ago I was threatened with a weapon in the Boca la Caja neighborhood, in the San Francisco township.” In this way, a video begins in which Serena Vamvas, pre-candidate for representative of the township of San Francisco, published independently on her social networks.

The incident, as reported by Vamvas, occurred on the afternoon of Saturday June 24, and according to what she said on TVN’s morning news, the people who threatened her are two men of approximately 30 and 40 years of age.

One of them, she narrated, told her that she had to leave, or he would kill her, because “that was the territory of the current representative of the corregimiento Carlos Pérez.” She replied: “but I’m not doing anything wrong.” Next, another arrived with a weapon, cocked it and told her: “You are leaving here because we are with him (Pérez Herrera).”

“I was left cold, obviously it is a situation that I did not expect. I don’t even know if they are people from the area, I had not seen them before,” she recounted.

Vamvas took the case to the Public Ministry and requested a protection measure, but said that it is “a piece of paper, that does not stop the bullets.”

However, she assured that the incident will not stop her tours through the communities of the San Francisco corregimiento. As of Tuesday, Serena Vamvas has collected 2,059 signatures in her fight to obtain one of the three candidacies for representative of the San Francisco corregimiento for free application. The minimum number of signatures required for that position is 399, which represents 2% of the votes cast in that area during the last elections.

Regarding the threat to Serena Vamvas, the PRD member Pérez Herrera said: “I flatly reject the expressions made by the independent candidate made today on TVN , where she holds me responsible for the threat with a firearm during a walk she had in Boca Caja. I’ve never needed that kind of action to win an election. I find this action opportunistic just to get the attention of the electorate and dirty my image. Those who know me know that I am a man of peace and under no circumstances can I accept such a statement”.

Only 346 of the 2,189 PRD members who ran for the different popular election positions for the June 11 primaries of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) delivered their campaign income and expense report to the Electoral Tribunal (TE).

According to data from the TE, until 5:00 pm, on Monday, 1,843 PRD members had yet to present their report, which includes proclaimed and unproclaimed candidates.

In the breakdown, the entity details that of the 723 proclaimed candidates, only 133 have delivered their report. Among them, the presidential candidate of the PRD, José Gabriel Carrizo. The other 590 remain delinquent.

While of the 1,466 who were not proclaimed, a total of 213 have delivered the report, including two presidential candidates. The rest, 1,253, are pending to do so. The proclaimed candidates had until Monday to present the document to the TE. This was recalled by the entity through a statement based on articles 240 and 241 of the Electoral Code and article 171 of Decree 29 of May 30, 2022.



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