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Officials arrested in bail scam probe

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Officials arrested in bail scam probe

Overvalued properties with no access
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Simultaneous raids on government offices and homes have led to the arrest of officials in a criminal network providing certificates of overvalued properties to get bail for high profile defendants.

The network used properties that do not have access roads, water, electricity or phones but are accepted without problem in the courts to free politicians,  businessmen, murderers, and drug traffickers, reports La Prensa.

The administrator of the Public Registry in northern Panama and two officials in Colón were detained

After a follow-up operation, the authorities analyzed documentation that the network had entered irregularly into the courts, with the alleged participation of officials from the Public Registry, the Judicial Branch, the National Land Administration Authority (Anati) and the General  Income Directorate (DGI)

In the home of  Lluis Noriega -one of the owners of the overpriced properties- authorities seized six cell phones, six computers, cameras and a large number of documents.

The case was reopened after an investigation by La Prensa that found 7 companies that own more than 400 properties in rural areas, in deplorable condition, and without basic services, are overvalued and used as bonds in legal proceedings, without the opposition of the judges.

Arrested in the operation were Samantha Bush and Yahir Dupuy (in Colón) and Áurea Caballero, administrator of the Public Registry in northern Panama and Luis Noriega, an attorney in charge of several overvalued estates located in Coclé.

Rodrigo Muñoz was arrested in Villa Grecia, Las Cumbres. Muñoz appears as a taxpayer in several companies that have overvalued land and are used in bail release.

All are charged for the alleged commission of aggravated fraud, and falsification of public documents.

Earliier La Prensa detected that there were about 100 bail bonds guaranteed with land of little value, but with the endorsement of courts, to grant freedom in favor of people accused of different crimes.

La Prensa found  that Muñoz divided a farm of little value into three lots, to which he assigned a global amount of $7 million to be used in the releases.

During the raid on Noriega’s home, receipts were found, among them, for the bail of Porfirio Ellis, political coordinator of Cambio Democrático.

Several receipt books were also found for the use of properties, delivered by Ellis, in the case of the corruption scandal in the former National Assistance Program (PAN).

Other politicians and businessmen benefiting from the properties are former Education Ministers Belgis Castro and Salvador Rodríguez; the ex-governor of Coclé  Richard Fifer, and the merchant  Juan Carlos Marciaga.



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