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Investigation of High Ranking Health Ministry Officials For Conflict of Interest Involving Swab Testing Supplies

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Investigation of high ranking Health Ministry officials


Visitors to Taboga need a swab test

Posted 19/08/2021

The director of the Metropolitan Health Region, Israel Cedeño confirmed that the head of epidemiology of the Ministry of Health (Minsa) Leonardo Labrador, and the regional head of public health Ana Lorena Chang Chevalier are part of the Board of Directors of the Sermedic company that  until last week  carried out swabs on Taboga Island

Cedeño said in Telemetro Reporta that an investigation was initiated for a possible conflict of interest

and to determine if the doctors used their influence so that the company would benefit.

The company was created in June 2020, in the midst of a pandemic.



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OPINION: Panama a country stolen

Posted 20/08/2021

The decomposition of the public service is regrettable. Before, it was the high command of the government of the day who became millionaires at the expense of the treasury, but corruption has permeated. Now not only they, but middle managers already do it, even in the lowest hierarchies. The conflict of interest that we have witnessed in the Ministry of Health, in which a couple of officials have profited from the pandemic, outlines everything that is wrong in the Government. Each investigation by the Minsa or the Public Ministry on irregular acts of public employees ends in limbo. The message leaves no doubt: corruption is the only requirement to occupy key positions or to obtain contracts. Everyone looks for their piece of the cake and the one who does not lend himself to the scam, ends up expelled. In summary, we have Minsa officials in health business; a Ministry of Public Works that hires companies confessed to acts of corruption and a president who allows these abuses, while he walks incognito in Tocumen to verify that the mosaics of the terminal are broken, while in front of his eyes the country is stolen- LA PRENSA. Aug 20



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CSS probes suspected ethics violations


Posted 21/08/2021

Just days after two senior officials of the Ministry of Health (Minsa) were removed from their positions due to a possible conflict of interest The Social Security Fund (CSS) announced that it has initiated an internal investigation to determine the possible commission of violations of ethics by officials of the institution.

According to the CSS, those under investigation were directors of a company that participated in an acquisition process in 2020.

The company linked to the officials received contracts for the supply of laboratory supplies, after presenting their offer to the entities as established by law. "The CSS warns that we would be facing a possible breach of the regulations established concerning the conflict of interest," said a statement.

 The entity recalled that any public servant of the CSS who incurs breaches of ethics will be investigated, and the entity will take the corresponding sanctions against them.

Leonardo Labrador, who served as director of Epidemiology, and Ana Lorena Chang, former regional head of Public Health, are under investigation after it was detected that they are linked to a company that carried out swabs from travelers to the Pacific islands.



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Investigation of swabs scandal ongoing


Posted 23/08/2021

The National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information (Antai) reports that 11 procedures have been carried out related to the case of swabs administered to travelers to the island of Taboga.

Elsa Fernández, general director of Antai, recalled that this investigation began due to a case of conflict of interest, which is clearly detailed in article No. 39 of the Code of Ethics for Public Servants.

The first proceedings of the Antai were carried out on August 19 and consisted of five eye inspections in the Ministry of Health (Minsa), Public Registry, Civil Registry, the Gorgas Memorial Institute, and in Sermedic Panama.

The objective of these proceedings was to collect relevant information for the investigation that was initiated ex officio for the complaints filed about the swab test as a requirement to travel to six islands in the Panamanian Pacific, especially Taboga.

This Monday it was reported that Sermedic Panama established a swab center in the Amador area without having the approval of the Technical Health Council to carry out laboratory tests.

Sermedic is owned by Ana Lorena Chang Chevalier, who until August 19 served as the regional head of Public Health and was separated from the position by the Minsa.

The laboratory of the Sermedic Panama clinic is also owned by the former national head of Epidemiology of the Minsa Leonardo Labrador Chávez, who is Chang's husband and was separated from his position on August 19.

Fernández indicated that Antai, together with the Directorate of Judicial Investigation, carried out a visual inspection at the Taboga docks on Saturday, August 21. "We needed to corroborate that this company will not continue to provide a service for which it was not authorized," he added.

He said that on Monday, proceedings were carried out again at the Ministry of Health and the Civil Registry, which was the second in both entities.

The official clarified that they have a clear roadmap for the inspections that will be carried out this week.



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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Investigation of High Ranking Health Ministry Officials For Conflict of Interest Involving Swab Testing Supplies
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Swabs scandal probe widens


Posted 28/08/2021

The Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office is collecting information on the conflict of interest scandal carried out by the former National Head of Epidemiology of the Ministry of Health (Minsa), Leonardo Labrador, and the former Director of Public Health of the Metropolitan Region, Ana Lorena Chang, members of the board of directors of the company A&L Medic, which under the trade name Sermedic swabbed travelers at the Amador dock, where ships bound for the islands of the Gulf of Panama are boarded.

"We are compiling the necessary evidence to support whether there is influence peddling and/or privileged information and / or any other crime that may be configured," a Public Ministry source told La Prensa.

On August 6,  an Executive Decree was signed, which established that to travel to Taboga, Contadora, San José, Isla del Rey, Saboga and Otoque Occidente y Oriente, it is required to show a vaccination card or negative test for Covid-19. If the traveler does not meet these requirements, they must undergo a swab test at their own expense, before boarding.

Three days after that decree, Chang supervised the work of this company on the Amador dock and praised the service  it offered to the public, without specifying that she was talking about her own business.

Subsequently, multiple authorities announced investigations: the Public Ministry, the National Transparency Authority the Public Prosecutor's Office, and the Minsa itself.

The Public Ministry, investigation was announced on August 19 and, apart from influence peddling, there are other criminal modalities that could be investigated, such as abuse of authority and, conflict of interest which constitutes an aggravating On Monday, August 23, lawyer Abdiel González denounced Labrador and Chang for alleged embezzlement and corruption of public servants.

On Thursday, Health Minister Luis Francisco Sucre, who together with President Cortizo signed the executive decree to restrict entry to the six islands, reported that Human Resources of the institution confirmed the obvious: the conflict of interest. He added that "the two colleagues" cannot go to work until the investigations are concluded. Both, in addition to occupying executive roles, have positions of general practitioners in Minsa.

The director of the Metropolitan Health Region, Israel Cedeño, clarified that at this time Labrador and Chang are not practicing as doctors. He assured that they will not return to their administrative positions. Another investigation is underway out to see if there was any conflict of interest.

The  Public Ministry has requested reports from the Minsa, the Public Registry, and the Ministry of Commerce and Industries.

The company A&L Medic (whose business name is Sermedic) has Chang as president and Labrador as secretary. Both are listed as subscribers. Carlos Enrique Chang Chávez appears as treasurer.



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Health Ministry bosses arrested in swab scandal


Posted 08/02/2022

Two senior officials separated from the Ministry of Health were arrested at their home in San Miguelito on Tuesday, February 8 on the order of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor of the Public Ministry,  for their role in  what became known as the swab rip-off involving a conflict of interest. Within the next 24 hours will be brought before a guarantee judge to lay charges.

Leonardo Labrador (former head of Epidemiology) and Ana Lorena Chang (former head of Public Health of the Metropolitan area) were arrested during a raid on their home.

The stand-in Attorney General Javier Caraballo, said that evidence has been collected that allows the actions that are being carried out.

He explained that the alleged crimes would be corruption of public officials and a crime against public health due to illegal swabs.

At the moment there are three people involved, the former bosses and a medical technologist.

The Labrador-Chang married couple were separated from their position due to the scandal that arose when people were allowed to enter Taboga Island, as long as they had a negative swab test, which was carried out by a company supposedly linked to both on a dock at Amador. 

In this case, the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information also opened an ex officio investigation.

Last August, authorities carried out five eye inspection procedures at the Minsa, the Public Registry, the Civil Registry, the Gorgas Commemorative Institute for Health Studies and the laboratory contracted to carry out said tests.


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Former Health Ministry  chief heads for detention


DR. LABRADOR escorted to his cell.

Posted 09/02/2022

A Guarantees Judge on Wednesday ordered the provisional detention of Leonardo Labrador former head of Epidemiology of the Ministry of Health (Minsa), and the house arrest of his wife Ana Lorena Chang, former head of Public Health of the Metropolitan Region and laboratory technician Carmen Arosemena, who works at the Minsa and the Social Security Fund, for the alleged crime against public health.

Chang did not attend the hearing but observed the proceedings virtually as she has tested positive for covid-19.

 Judge Marisol Ortiz took into account the evidence presented by the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office, which indicates that they have allegedly violated sanitary regulations by carrying out swab tests without the Sermedic Panama Clinic having permission to operate as a laboratory that is granted by the Minsa.

The anti-corruption prosecutor, Omar Jaén, announced that the house arrest decision was appealed and that the hearing will take place on February 16.

Labrador’s defense appealed the provisional arrest warrant, which will also be heard on February 16.

“We have a large number of elements of conviction presented and we are going to continue collecting. Currently, there is evidence that 388 swabs were carried out without authorization from the health authorities and they are investigating to see if there are more links and evidence,” said Jaén.

Labrador was charged with the alleged commission of crimes against public health and the corruption of a public servant. While Chang and Arosemena were only charged with the alleged crime against public health.


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