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Luis Cucalón, Former Director of DGI (Revenue Ministry), Facing Embezzelment and Corruption Charges; Remains Hospitalized for More Than 2 Years

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Delay in corruption case criticized

Posted on September 13, 2016 in Panama

Luis Cucalon heading for his short lived preventive detention
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THE SUSPENSION of preliminary hearing of the case involving former Revenue Director Luis Cucalón and four others for alleged offenses against public administration has led to widespread criticism.

The hearing was suspended because Cucalón was not able to attend due to health issues.

A La Prensa cartoonist's take on the hospitalized corruption suspect

A La Prensa cartoonist’s take on the hospitalized corruption suspect

He has been hospitalized for about a year and critics point to the high cost of his “imprisonment,” excluding medical treatment.

Cucalón was moved from preventive detention to Panama’s most expensive private hospital.

Money circle
The case involves a contract issued by the department he headed  to the company Cobranzas del Istmo for the collection of delinquent taxes.

Other defendants include Cobranzas del Istmo officials Christopher Salerno, Maria Salerno and Magaly Salerno.

Chritopher Salerno claims he delivered cases stuffed with money to then president Ricardo Martinelli,

The allegation is that the company paid bribes to government officials in exchange for the contract.

In some cases the company received a commission for payments made by government entities, including Tocumen International Airport, essentially being paid by the government for collecting money from itself.


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2-years dodging justice in a hospital bed


THE FORMER head of the General Directorate of Revenue (DGI),  under investigation for the alleged embezzlement of millions of dollars has been dodging justice for nearly two years in Panamama’s most expensive hospital complex.

Luis Cucalón, is facing charges  of embezzlement in the collection of delinquent taxes through the Company Cobranzas del Istmo, S.A., a case in which another defendant under house arrest claims he delivered suitcases stuffed with cash to then president Ricardo

Meanwhile  Cucalón  continues to evade justice reports La Prensa.

On  September 9   he will have been  2 years “imprisoned “in the Hospital Punta Pacifica, alleging affections in the lungs, among other ailments.

However, one of the strategies of his defense to invalidate part of the process has been discarded reports La Prensa.  The Supreme Court has rejected an amparo of constitutional guarantees against an order of the First Criminal Court, which granted an extension of four months to the First Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office to conclude the investigation. The presentation was in charge of the magistrate Jose Ayú Prado. The First Criminal Court gave the prosecution an extension, concluding that it is “a complex investigation “whose

The First Criminal Court gave the prosecution an extension, concluding that it is “a complex investigation “whose offense carries a prison sentence of 8 to 15 years.

In  June, Cucalón’s lawyer, Juan Carlos Sánchez, filed an appeal against The first criminal judge, Águeda Rentería, to try to remove the file and have it assigned to another court. Sánchez claims that Rentería has not sent to the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences a request for his client to be reviewed by a physician, in order to establish his health condition.

The resource is in the hands of the second criminal judge Johann Barrios, who must decide if he accepts or not.

For now, Cucalón will face the hearing of the case on September 18; this, after the hearing  scheduled for September 12, was suspended because he had health problems.

It is not the   only case on hold. The ex-official has also been able to delay the investigation of the alleged commission of the crime of abuse of authority to the detriment of Digicel reports La Prensa.

Again arguing also health problems, Cucalón has avoided the two hearings of this process.

Questions raised related to the evasion of justice have been passed on like a hot potato.

Sources at the Public Ministry said that the case is already in the hands of the Judicial Branch.

Trying to discover how many policemen take care of him and how much it costs the state

La Prensa consulted the Ministry of Government, in charge of the prison system and it was reported that Cucalón’s custody is now in the hands of the National Police (PN) as the Ministry  is  only responsible for caring for those deprived of their liberty who are inside a penitentiary.

A spokesman of the National Police, asked for questions  by Email but neither he  nor the Director of the PN, Omar Pinzón, have replied

Civil society groups, such as the Citizens Alliance Pro Justice, have warned that the case could remain unresolved.



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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Luis Cuculón, Former Director of DGI (Revenue Ministry), Facing Embezzelment and Corruption Charges; Remains Hospitalized for More Than 2 Years

The daily cost of the room ( Presidential suite) is $1300.00.  Now that's just the room which I assume is apart from medications, treatments and doctor bills. This bill is being paid by his family who it is said to have sold properties in order to cover this cost.  ( rolling my eyes)   yah right......  We are supposed to believe this is an innocent public servant who is chronically ill and needs medical care of the finest quality.    The case?...on hold forever.

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Embezzlement suspect continues hospital refuge

Expensive hospital stay

THE FORMER Director General of Revenue (DGI)    Luis Cucalón, who has been  in a private hospital for 22 months avoiding investigation of alleged embezzlement  of millions of dollars  has once again dodged the bullet.

First Criminal Court, JudgeÁgueda Rentería, has not sent him to the Forensic Medicine and Science  Institute (Imelcf)  after  a new application for medical evaluation, despite the fact that he has remained in Punta Pacifica, Panama’s most expensive hospital, for nearly two years.

He is charged  with presumed embezzlement in the collection of delinquent taxes and is allegedly suffering from high blood pressure.

The director of the Imelcf, Humberto Mas, indicated that  June 2016 was the last time that Cucalón was evaluated.

Meanwhile, Cucalón’s legal defense continued stalling tactics by filing A habeas corpus in favor of his client before the Second Justice Court to avoid his appearance there. The Citizens for Justice  organization is concerned that  Cucalón will evade trial as time runs out.



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Judge slams trial blocking ploy

Luis Cucalon

THE FORMER head of Panama’s tax collection agency (DGI) who has been resting  under “house arrest”  in a private hospital for nearly two years is in the sights of a criminal judge for using “dilatory” mechanisms to block embezzlement investigations.

Luis Cucalón is due in court on September 18, facing charges of embezzlement in the collection of delinquent taxes from , s called him out because he has made a last minute move and hired another attorney to represent him in place of two previous lawyers.

Judge Rentería rejected the new lawyer because “… It  clearly represents [the action of Cucalón] a merely dilatory purpose that seeks an impediment .”

On August 24, the secretary of the First Criminal Court, Manuel Lezcano,  received a letter of “Waiver of power granted” to lawyers Edwin Teira and Juan Carlos Sánchez by Cucalón .

Loyalty and decorum
The judge pointed to  Article 18 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Article 215 of the Judicial Code, which as one of the guiding principles of the criminal process the loyalty and probity in the conduct of lawyers. It indicates that the “procedural law in force requires a minimum of loyalty and decorum to the lawyers of the parties, which also includes the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility of Lawyers … and therefore, the exercise of acts such as the present one is unfounded, since it represents clearly a merely dilatory purpose that seeks the impediment or challenge … “.

In accordance with what is dictated by numeral 5 of article 201 of the Judicial Code, which grants judges the authority to reject any application or act that is notoriously improper or that indicates a demonstration in a trial, Judge Rentería rejects the copy of the power granted to the lawyer Moisés Bartlett, “which appears to have been presented on July 19, 2017 when there was still no waiver of Messrs. Teira and Sánchez … “. The resignation of these two lawyers was reported on August 24.

In her decision, the judge accepts the resignation of attorneys Sánchez and Teira, but sets a deadline of five days for  Cucalón to name another defender; and warns him that if he does not do so within that period, she will appoint ex officio defense counsel.

The judge ordered  Cucalón to be notified of the decision at Punta Pacífica hospital, where he has been under arrest since September 2015.



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Embezzlment suspect gets hospital boot


PANAMA’S  FORMER Director-General of Revenue,  who exchanged a jail cell for the air conditioned comforts of a leading private hospital two years ago has been given five days to find another refuge.

Luis Cucalón got his eviction notice from the Directorate of Hospital Punta Pacifica now Pacífica Salud, in  a note signed by Felix Puga, the facility’s  legal manager.

According to the letter , the decision was made following statements made Monday. Sep.4  by Cucalón’s latest lawyer, Moisés Barlet, in Telemetro Report, using the hospital as an excuse to avoid detention.

According to the hospital, what the lawyer claims is “a false statement affecting the name and image” of the medical center.

“The hospital has been suffering multiple media attacks while   we have fully protected his  rights as a patient, as provided by the national legal system and hospital policies,” said the letter

Barlet,  has confirmed that since Tuesday he stopped being part of the defense of the ex-official without giving further explanation reports La Prensa

The lawyer described the ouster as an administrative decision and not because of the physical and mental health condition of Cucalón.

“You have to be objective to serve as a lawyer and not want the intervention to be interpreted as hindering the holding of a hearing,” Barlet said. A judge has labeled recent moves by Cucalón’s team an attempt to delay justice and has given him five days to find a new attorney, or accept one appointed by the court.

On September 18, the former must appear in court charged with alleged embezzlement in the collection of delinquent taxes through the company Cobranzas del Istmo, S.A.



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Ex-top tax collector clings to hospital bed


LUIS CUCALÓN  as former Director General of Revenue was Panama’s  chief tax collector (DGI),  is now facing embezzlement charges for allegedly re-directing some of the money he collected.

Meanwhile he does not take kindly to eviction notices and remains in the Hospital Punta Pacifica where he has been lodging for two years avoiding court appearances.   A five-day notice from the hospital to find another medical center, private or public, expired on Saturday September 9.

National Police sources told La  Prensa on Monday  that – so far  no orders have been received  from the First Criminal Court  to remove him although  a judge has accused  him of using dilatory practices.

Cucalón  completed two years at the expensive private hospital on September 7.

The court has accused Cucalón of using  “dilatory” mechanisms in the investigation of  alleged commission of alleged  embezzlement in the collection of taxes by the company Cobranzas del Istmo, S.A. whose president, Cristobal Salerno told prosecutors that he delivered  suitcases stuffed with cash to  then president Ricardo Martinelli at the presidential palace.



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Former tax boss exits hospital to jail

Cucalon leaves hospital refuge in cuffs

THE FORMER  head of the Directorate General of Revenue (DGI), Luis Cucalón,   ended his two year sojourn avoiding  justice in Panama’s most expensive private hospital ,  on Tuesday, September 12  when he was whisked away from Punta Pacifica  in a Penitentiary  System vehicle to the lesser comforts of the El Renacer Prison in Gamboa.

Among his neighbors  in El Renacer will be other luminaries of the  Ricardo Martinelli  era like, former police chief Gustavo Perez and ex-Supreme Court president Alejandro Moncada Luna,  both serving five-year terms, and a swathe of former high rollers getting a preliminary taste of life on the flip side of the coin  while awaiting trial in corruption cases. Some of them, like Moncada Luna,  have played the health card to change their environment, but without success.

They may all be wondering if the capo who held the strings will soon be joining them after his extradition from Miami, where he is housed in a Federal detention center, minus many of the privileges like TV and Twitter enjoyed by the El Renacer community.

He will be in court next week facing embezzlement charges in a case with close links to Ricardo Martinelli. and  Cristobal Salerno, currently under house arrest who told prosecutors he delivered suitcases stuffed with money to the presidential palace.



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Tax embezzlement suspects want plea deal

Cucalon and Salerno

THE TWO  central figures in the  Tax collecting embezzlemen scandal   have  told a judge that they are willing to make a penalty deal with the Anti-corruption Prosecutor’s Office.

Luis Cucalón, former head of the General Directorate of Revenue (DGI), and Cristóbal Tobín Salerno,  linked to Cobranzas del Istmo, S.A. (CISA), a debt collecting firm,  made the announcement to First Penal   Judge  Agueda Rentería on Monday, Sep. 18

At the hearing, both raised the possibility in order to make prosecutor Adecio Mojicac aware of it before entering the pleadings phase.

Cucalón, arrived in court from the El Renacer prison where he was transferred last week after a two-year stay in Panama’s most upscale hospital.

He was manacled hand and foot and wearing a white tee shirt. His lawyer , requested the suspension of the   hearing to be empowered to represent his client and he needs time to examine the file.

The judge summoned the parties for  trial on October 26

The rejected an application to change  preventive detention to house arrest.

Rentería said she analyzed the reports of the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences (Imelcf), which stated that Cucalón’s health is “stable”..

Cucalón  told the judge”I was not in a hotel,” and said that when he was hospitalized, he could not “walk.”

On September 12, the judge ordered the transfer of Cucalón to El Renacer after changing the hospital detention  measure,

Salerno, operator of  Cobranzas del Istmo, S.A.,   has told prosecutors that he delivered suitcases stuffed with cash to ex-president Ricardo Martinelli, at the presidential palace.

Through his lawyer,  Salerno filed an application for accumulation of other charges and an incident of nullity. Both were rejected by the judge and the defense announced an appeal.

Maria Alejandra Salerno, daughter of Salerno, Magaly Ramos, Edgardo González and Irasema Sánchez, all linked to CISA were also  in court CISA  in the past government had the exclusive contract to collect the delinquent portfolio of the State.

The hearing took place behind closed doors.

Salerno returned to his luxury apartment in Puta Pacifica where he remains under house arrest. Luis Cucalón, returned to El Renacer where many of his neighbors are also faced with orruption investigations.



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Ex-tax boss continues embezzlement trial stall

Luis Cucalon from hospital sojourn to manacles.

Panama’s former top tax collector Luis Cucalón facing charges of embezzlement, former director of the General Directorate of Revenue, withdrew a penalty agreement when he appeared in court manacled and under tight security on Thursday, Oct.26.

He ha been brought  from his cell in El Renacer prison where he has been detained since the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences, declared his health stable.

Prosecutor  Adesio Mojica called for a trial for Cucalón, Cristóbal Salerno and Magaly Ramos. They are accused of embezzlement in the collection of delinquent taxes through the company Cobranzas del Istmo, S.A. (CISA).

This was the resumption of the hearing that was postponed three times by excuses about the state of his health.

Cucalón was under arrest at the high-end Punta Pacifica Hospital from September 7, 2015, until September 12 , 2017, when the court changed the order to  preventive detention and he was taken to El Renacer.

In total, 31 months have elapsed since the initiation of the investigation when a complaint made by the current head of the General Directorate of Revenues, Publio Cortés.

In addition, it has been 20 months since the prosecution’s findings were forwarded to the judicial branch.

Now the judge says he needs 30 days to rule on the prosecution’s request for a  trial hearing.



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Detention a health challenge for Martinelli elite

Cucalon moving from hospital to jail

In the last 3 years, more than 10  accused who were in good health when arrested have mysteriously, deteriorated when behind bars says an El Siglo report.

One of the most notorious  cases has been the former director of the General Revenue Directorate (DGI), Luis Cucalón, who was arrested on May 25, 2015 for allegedly paying  $47 million in commissions to Cobranzas del Istmo S.A. and who spent two years in Panama’s most expensive hospital in  Punta Pacifica for alleged health conditions.

Cucalón was transferred to El Renacer Prison in August 2015, but suddenly his health deteriorated in less than a month because in September he was taken to the private hospital where he remained until September of this year.

In addition to him, José Raúl Mulino, Minister of Public Security 2009-2014, also alleged health problems and obtained a pass from preventive detention.

Mulino was imprisoned on October 26, 2015, also in El Renacer, but on March 7 of this year he was granted country arrest and ordered to report on the 30th of each month before the Third Anti-Corruption Prosecutor and reside in his current address.

The former minister is being investigated for the alleged commission of crime against public administration, to the detriment of the Ministry of Security.

The ex-director of the National Police, Gustavo Pérez, was another of those who asked for a change of precautionary measure after suffering several health problems while being locked up; among them was an infection in the eyes and later hypertension. Before being moved from the new La Joyita prison to El Renacer he had complained of claustrophobia.

Alejandro Garuz, the former secretary of the Security Council, claimed to have diabetes which afflicts a large percentage of Panamanians.

Miracle Cures
The action of the lawyers of those investigated when requesting deals in favor of their clients using as an excuse that they suffer from a disease, is not well seen by civil society,  which alleges that this is only a strategy to get out of prison, because when they leave ‘the symptoms miraculously disappear’.

Annette Planells, of the Independent Movement (Movin), told El Siglo, that in the process they abuse the trust of the system, making the cases in which a precautionary measure other than preventive detention must be applied. The most serious, in her  opinion, is when they use that strategy to delay the process ‘as it seems to have been the recent case of Mr Cucalón’, she  said, <eanwhile  hundreds of detainees in Panamanian prisons suffer from chronic diseases and are not benefited with house or country arrest because they do not have the money  to pay for a lawyer to use alleged  illness as a resource.

Richard Morales, political analyst, said that many times detainees simulate the suffering and even bribe doctors to rule on a more serious illness, a situation that reveals the corruption and dysfunctionality that exists in the justice system of Panama.

When ex-judge Alexandro Moncada Luna was under investigation, he delayed an appearance with a note from a cardiologist who later admitted she had not examined him.

While serving his 5-year sentence in El Renacer, attempts by Moncada Luna to play the health card have failed.

Before being moved to Renacer, Cucalon got a clean bill of health from government doctors.



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Authority abuse gets ex-tax collector jail time


LUIS CUCALÓN,  former   Director of Panama’s tax collecting authority (DGI) has been sentenced to two years in prison for abuse of authority to the detriment of the Digicel telephone company.

The Public  Ministry (MP)   said that Cucalón – took advantage of an abbreviated hearing and gained  a third reduction of the penalty, leaving 16 months to be served.

T he investigation began with a complaint filed by the current  Director General of Revenue in April, 2015, regarding a possible abuse of authority, over the seizing of property and real estate of  Digicel., in the amount of $141,592,827.05, says the MP.

Also in his capacity as director of the former ANIP, he ordered the arrest and detention of an executive of Digicel. without having the competence to do so.

Cucalón is awaiting trial in another case over  the theft of scores of millions of dollars involving  the ex-president Ricardo Martinelli and members of his inner circle.

He gained notoriety when supposedly in preventive detention, he spent two years in  Punta Pacific Hospital



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16 months and as well another trial on theft of millions from the government still pending.  Look at him.  He does not look like a happy camper.  His glory days are over methinks. Maybe he'll lose some weight.  Wild Bill got himself into pretty good shape in the can.

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IMPUNITY: Insider stole millions, dodges jail

Have money will walk
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A BUSINESSMAN who told prosecutors that he made regular deliveries of suitcases stuffed with $400,00 -$600,000  in cash to ex-president Ricardo Martinelli, is absolved from jail time by paying $300,000.

Cristóbal Salerno was sentenced on Friday, January 5, to  48 months in prison, replaced by payment of a fine. In messages posted on Twitter, the Public Ministry (MP) explained that First Criminal Circuit, Judge  Agueda Rentería, approved  a punishment agreement and condemned Salerno to a prison sentence, but he  will not go to jail because the court replaced the penalty with a  500 days fine at the rate of $600 a day, making a total of $300,000 d payable in four months.

The judge also ordered the confiscation of $20 million in the case, investigated by anti-corruption prosecutors.


Luis Cucalon.

Cobranzas del Istmo received a lucrative contract from the former government to collect back taxes on a commission basis. It collected more than $40 million, Salerno also said he gave a check for $2.8 million to former Revenue Department Director Luis Cucalón, recently jailed in another case. Salerno is also facing criminal charges in another investigation.



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Defense says tax theft “incredible story”

Cuffed Cucalon arrives at court
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Panama’s Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office has called for the conviction of the former head of the tax collection authority (DGI) and five others for alleged embezzlement, and corruption of public servants in the Cobranzas del Istmo (CiSA) case.

Luis Cucalón, former chief of the Directorate General of Revenue gained notoriety by spending for two years in preventive detention regardless of cost in the Punta Pacifica  Hospital. Cisa was hired to collect back taxes, and its owner Cristóbal Salerno had testified that he delivered suitcases stuffed with cash to then president Ricardo Martinelli.

Cucalón was taken under heavy security from the El Renacer Prison to the First Criminal Court of Panama on Thursday, July 5.

Salerno had earlier been sentenced to 48 months in prison for but the penalty

was replaced with 500 days fine, at the rate of $600 per day or $300,000 in total, payable in four months. He was recently granted an extension of time to pay

At the end of the hearing, the anticorruption prosecutor Adecio Mojica said that “it is fully verified that there were agreements of wills to embezzle and commit an act of corruption. ”

The prosecutor stressed that the  file was “well processed” by the prosecution, where “ the illicit situations  came to light ” in the hiring the company CiSA for the collection of delinquent taxes Mojica said that in this case it was found that agreements of wills were made “to take an economic advantage “where CiSA had to collect arrears.”

Cucalón’s lawyer, Edwin Teira, said that there was lack of evidence on the part of the prosecution to “continue supporting an incredible story” against his client  “when Cristóbal Salerno has confessed he stole the money “

The judge will deliver his ruling in 30 days.



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Hospital skulking embezzler gets 8-years $6.12 million seized

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Luis Cucalón, former director of the General Revenue Directorate who skulked for two years in Panama’s most expensive private hospital to avoid preventive detention, will have less comfortable quarters in the coming years as a judge handed down a stiff jail sentence on Monday, September 17.

The First Criminal Court issued a judgment of 96 months in prison to the author of crimes of embezzlement and corruption of public servants.

The sentence is related to the investigations for irregularities in the collection of taxes through the company Cobranzas del Istmo.

In addition, the judge ordered the confiscation of $6.128 451 plus the interest generated, seized in a Panama bank.



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Confirmed sentence of 8 years of jail against exdirector of General Direction of Revenues of Panama

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 15:49

Diseño sin título (2)_2.jpg

The Public Ministry (PM) of Panama confirmed on Thursday the sentence of 96 months (8 years) of imprisonment for the former head of the General Direction of Revenues (DGI) Luis Cucalón for the crimes of embezzlement and corruption of public servants by the “Cobranzas del Istmo” case.

The "Second Superior Court of Justice of the 1st Judicial District confirmed sentence that criminally responsible Luis Enrique Cucalón as author of Peculation and Corruption of Public Servants, and they applied 96 months in prison", said the PM in his Twitter account.

The ruling of the aforementioned court, dated January 31, confirms in all its parts the judgment that was issued on September 14, 2018, by which Cucalón was declared responsible for the crimes of embezzlement and corruption in the process followed by irregularities in the collection of delinquent taxes by the company Cobranzas del Istmo, during the last government.

For these crimes, the First Criminal Circuit Court sentenced him to 96 months (8 years) of prison and disqualification for the exercise of public functions.

In addition, it ordered the confiscation of 6.13 million dollars, plus interest generated, which had been seized from Cucalón from a bank account.

However, the first criminal judge, Agueda Rentería Sánchez, ordered the lifting of the provisional apprehension that weighed on other bank accounts because the process did not incorporate "evidentiary elements that demonstrate that they are subject of investigation for crimes against the national economy or other crimes".

The trial against Cucalón began after the lawsuit filed by lawyer Diógenes de La Rosa Cisneros, attorney of the former Minister of Economy and Finance Dulcidio De La Guardia for alleged ideological falsification of a public document, as a result of contract No. 100 of August 25, 2010, subscribed by the company Cobranzas del Istmo, SA, which constituted it as a collection manager for the recovery of unpaid debts.

But after analysis by auditors of the General Comptroller of the Republic revealed that there was a patrimonial injury to the public treasury of more than 29.5 million dollars.

In this process there is already a conviction against the businessman Cristóbal Salerno, owner of the company Cobranzas del Istmo, who accepted a penalty agreement with the Public Ministry. He was imposed a main prison sentence and an accessory sentence of money confiscation agreed between the parts.

Cucalón, who remains in the city jail of minimum security El Renacer, also serves a sentence of 16 months for the crime of Abuse of Authority and Infringement of the Duties of Public Servants, the local press recalled.



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"But after analysis by auditors of the General Comptroller of the Republic revealed that there was a patrimonial injury to the public treasury of more than 29.5 million dollars."

At first it mentioned 6 million embezzled.....wow 29 million, consider that!   

OK so look at this fellow.  Does he look happy, worry free and enjoying the fresh mountain air of Boquete?...nope.  So what's it worth?

Edited by Brundageba
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