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2 new defendants join ex-presidents in Odebrecht money probe

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Ex-presidenta Martinelli and Varela are defendants in money laundering probe

Posted 18/09/2020

The Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office has ordered the investigation of two new people linked to the   Odebrecht bribery investigation

While orders to appear have already been issued, no names were revealed on Friday morning, September 18.

The investigation involving at least $90 million in bribes began in Panama in 2015 but was interrupted the following year when Odebrecht signed an admission agreement with the United States Department of Justice.

Then the process had several delays due to the international judicial assistance requested by the

Prosecutor's Office and due to the legal stalling moves by the accused. The deadline for the prosecution's investigation to conclude is in October.

The Brazilian construction company obtained multi-billion contracts in the governments of Martín Torrijos (2004-2009), Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014), and Juan Carlos Varela (2014-2019).

Only Varela and Martinelli are charged in the case.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/2-new-defendants-join-ex-presidents-in-odebrecht-money-probe

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More defendants in multi-millions bribery scandal as clock running out

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Posted 07/10/2020

As the clock ticks down to the final week of the multi-million dollar Odebrecht  bribery case special anti-corruption  prosecutor Ruth Morcillo, has announced  that  an additional group of  defendants is under investigation while  she and her partner Adecio Mojica, complained about the judicial delays to resolve appeals and set hearing dates.

in an interview with  TVN program Mesa de Periodistas . Although she did not mention names, the prosecutor reported that they are individuals linked to the payments made through the so-called Caja Dos de Odebrecht , a division created by the Brazilian construction company to pay bribes, and  hidden financing  of political parties.

The Odebrecht case, considered an emblematic process of corruption, closes on October 14. From that moment on, the prosecution must draw up the tax hearing, a document that will then be sent to the Judicial Branch.

Until a few days ago, there were 88 defendants in this case, but Attorney General Eduardo Ulloa recently said that it  could close with more than 90 defendants. The defendants include two former presidents Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) and Juan Carlos Varela (2014-2019).

Mojica said  that there are files that have been delivered more than 10 years ago and have not been resolved. One such case is known as “fiberglass”, which tracks alleged irregularities in the execution of fiberglass removal work in public schools. That investigation began on August 26, 2009, and to date there have been no convictions.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/more-defendants-in-multi-millions-bribery-scandal-as-clock-running-out-1

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Panama banker questioned for 9 hours in laundering probe

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Posted 09/10/2020

Prominent  Panama banker Juan Antonio Niño was questioned by anti-corruption prosecutors for nine hours on Thursday, October 8 as part of the investigation into the bribes paid by the Odebrecht company.

Niño attended the interrogation, seven months after his first summons to the investigative office  which  was rescheduled due to the pandemic, and after availing himself of his right not to testify against himself,

The prosecution is investigating Niño for alleged money laundering.

he banker had been granted a release bond of $800,000, and cannot leave the country without judicial authorization.

Niño is the brother-in-law of the wife of former deputy José Luis  Popi  Varela, brother of former president Juan Carlos Varela (2014-2019) nut originally said he had no ties ro the family. The former president is also accused in the Odebrecht case and cannot leave the country.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/panama-banker-questioned-for-9-hours-in-laundering-probe

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OPINION: Battling to avoid monumental escape

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The Supreme Court

Posted 13/10/2020

The investigations into the Odebrecht case culminate this week, after months of investigations that probably end up incomplete, given its complexity. Prosecutors have done their work in a hostile environment, with frontal media attacks, both from those involved and from politicians who intend to bury the case under a pile of formalities that seek not to get to the bottom, that the denunciations are discarded, as well as the bank pieces of evidence. But, beyond all this, it has become clear that our criminal legislation is undermined, made so that the slightest error on the part of the parties serves to annul complete investigations, when what is possible are less severe solutions, such as corrections. Both the Public Ministry and the Judicial Branch have legislative initiative that could pave the way to make judicial processes less formal and provide greater procedural guarantees to do true justice. The Public Ministry will now have to prepare a tax hearing in this case. He wants dozens of defendants to be prosecuted in an emblematic and very high-profile case. If there is merit to call a trial, the fate of the process will be in the hands of the Judicial Branch, which will have one of its hardest tests.- LA PRENSA. Oct. 13

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-battling-to-avoid-monumental-escape-1

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3 “sick” women  and more dodge bullet in $100 million bribery  probe

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Posted 15/10/2020

The investigation phase of the five year long  Odebrecht  $100 million bribery case ended Wednesday, October 15 without the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office completing all the investigations allowing multiple suspects to dodge justice as the clock ran out.

For example, reports La Prensa, three women linked to the investigation during the reign of Ricardo Martinelli could not be questioned because they presented certificates of medical incapacity a tactic that Martinelli himself used in  July to avoid appearing. Another person did not appear when called for questioning.

The case also closed without the Supreme Court deciding three guarantees. One was filed by former President Juan Carlos Varela, another by the Ecuadorian citizen Freddy Barco Vera, and the third was filed in November 2018  by Juan Carlos Espinosa's lawyer.

Delaying tactics
There are also 40 appeals filed before the Twelfth Criminal Court, but after their liquidation, they must be resolved by the Third Settlement Court, led by Judge Baloisa Marquínez. This office must also resolve another 20 appeals processed by the Second Superior Court. The Judicial Code indicates that the prosecution will have an additional day for every 50 pages that the file contains to submit its l hearing and the investigation, until a few days ago, amounted to 1,150 volumes.

The team of prosecutors who must work on the indictments are Tania Sterling, Ruth Morcillo, Anilú Batista and Azucena Aizprúa. The last two joined the team last February after the arrival of the new attorney, Eduardo Ulloa. While Zuleyka Moore, who coordinated the case, was moved to a prosecution post in La Chorrera in May.

During the investigation, the prosecutors reached 11 effective collaboration agreements and penalties. At least 127 international assists were received.

The case began in 2015, after former comptroller Alvin Weeden denounced the payment of bribes from the construction company in Panama. However, it was on hiatus for several months and did not take flight until December 2016 when it became known, via the United States, that the construction company had paid bribes in various countries. In Panama alone, it was revealed at the time, it had distributed $59 million. The figure was small. In December 2018, the Public Ministry revealed that the company had paid more than $100 million in bribes.

The case began in 2015, after former comptroller Alvin Weeden denounced the payment of bribes from the construction company in Panama. However, it was on hiatus for several months, and did not take flight until December 2016 when it became known, via the United States, that the construction company had paid bribes in various countries. In Panama alone, it was revealed it had distributed $59 million. The figure was small. In December 2018, the Public Ministry reported that the company had paid more than $100 million in local bribes.

Slap in the face
Law professor , Miguel Antonio Bernal describes the  investigation as a slap in the face for the Panamanian people. “The Public Ministry has been protecting, covering up and benefiting Odebrecht, its bribes for five years. "The bribes are embedded in the structure of the Panamanian state," he said.

Political scientist Richard Morales maintains that it is a chain of complicity that involves traditional political parties, businessmen, banks, law firms, and construction companies. "In other countries they have been condemned," he said.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/3-sick-women-and-more-dodge-bullet-in-100-million-bribery-probe-1

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Las donaciones envenenadas

En la jurisdicción electoral las donaciones que dio Odebrecht a partidos y candidatos pasaron sin pena ni gloria. Hasta ahora no se conocen procesos o sanciones por el tema.
 
Eliana Morales Gil
19 oct 2020 - 12:00 AM

https://www.prensa.com/impresa/panorama/las-donaciones-envenenadas/

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El caso Odebrecht cerró con 102 investigados

De acuerdo con el Procurador, se firmaron 18 acuerdos de colaboración y de pena, con al menos 10 condenas. Se han recuperado $227 millones.
 
Eliana Morales Gil
20 oct 2020 - 12:00 AM

https://www.prensa.com/impresa/panorama/el-caso-odebrecht-cerro-con-102-investigados/

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Explaining “Justice” for Panama  Big Shots

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Posted 24/10/2020

Under the heading “Soicy Saturday”  in Rolando Rodriguez revealed on Saturday. October 24, the confessions of the Odebrecht official who approved multi-million dollars of bribes paid to high rollers of Panama who could face conviction in the United States and under Panama “justice” walk free on home soil.

Rodriguez writes:

Confessions of the Odebrecht business leader for Latin America, Luiz Antonio Mameri, known in 2017:

“In 2009, my subordinate André Campo, DS [Superintendent Director] of Panama, informed me that he would make a contribution of $400,000 with unaccounted for resources [Department of Structured Operations or Box 2] for the campaign of the then-presidential candidate Ricardo Martinelli. I authorized the payments ”.

“Later, during the government of Ricardo Martinelli, I was informed by André Campos [Rabello], DS of Panama, that he had been wanted by the sons of the then president, offering facilities, together with the Government of the country, and they agreed on a remuneration for the action in favor of the interests of the company. They would support the conquest of new projects, streamlining bureaucratic procedures and releasing invoice payments. Based on this, André Campos made payments of approximately $35 million, authorized by me, but it was not specified in which projects the sons of President Martinelli actually acted ”. The evidence, Mameri added, is ‘the records of payments made.’

“In the first semester of 2010, I was contacted by my subordinate, André Campos, DS of Panama, informing that he had agreed with the Minister of the Presidency, Demetrio Papadimitriu, that the company would make undue payments to him through his father. I authorized the payments, which total approximately $4 million. "

“In mid-2010, I was informed by my subordinate, André Rabello, that he had participated in meetings with the then-president Ricardo Martinelli, João Santana and Mónica Moura and, on the occasion, they agreed that, depending on the performance of the company In the country, the company would be responsible for part of the cost of the electoral campaign of Ricardo Martinelli's candidate for the country's Presidency, worth about $10 million. I authorized the payments ”.

Mameri was the one who approved bribes. Similar facts have been confessed by Odebrecht operators, such as Luiz Eduardo Soares, Fernando Migliaccio and Rodrigo Tacla Durán.

In Panama, the investigation ended last week. At the same time, another investigation is underway in the United States. Odebrecht has already pleaded guilty to paying bribes. In this process, two sons of former President Martinelli are investigated, who, refugees in that country, seem to have forgotten that the Department of Justice disclosed in 2016 that: “Odebrecht agreed to pay $6 million to two close relatives of a senior Panamanian official in relation to government infrastructure projects, under the understanding that, in return, the official would guarantee the contract for the work to Odebrecht ”.

They tell me that the case in Panama will be manipulated to favor big shots, so I ask if there are convictions in the United States, how will Panama justify that there are no convictions in the largest corruption case in the history of this country? writes Rodriguez

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/media-watch/explaining-justice-for-panama-big-shots

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Case against 102 Odebrecht defenfants before courts in December

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ex-president Ricardo Martinelli and his team of lawyers

Posted 25/10/2020

The  long-awaited prosecutorial hearing of the Odebrecht case will appear in the courts  in December said  Panama Attorney General Eduardo Ulloa, on TVN on Sunday

Some 102 individuals  have been investigated but legal maneuvers  have enabled some high profile figures to dodge the  bullet and others like former President Ricardo Martinelli have an army of   prominent lawyers  to stave off  prosecutors and judge

Ulloa said that they are prepared for justice to be done.

"We have asked the prosecutors that within the volume of the to ensure that the prosecution is as soon as possible. And considering the days to come, we have calculated that, at the latest, for the month of December that fiscal hearing should be going to court, "said Ulloa.

He reiterated that it is an emblematic case that consists of 1,120 volumes, 102 accused, and about 150 international assistance; Most of the responses were received and the rest are in the process of being completed.

Ulloa affirmed that more than the strength of the prosecutorial view, what should be highlighted is the strength that the investigations which is what will determine the success or not of the files in the courts.

"We believe that within the circumstances that were investigated, we will be presenting a strong case before the courts which has very well-accredited objective elements, which allows a series of people who are accused to be shown criminal responsibility before the courts", Ulloa said on the 'Radar' program on TVN.

He acknowledged that the road will not be easy, but they are prepared to make the entire fight in the most effective way, at the judicial level, so that "within the file there is justice."

Ulloa also expressed his feelings about the people who could not be prosecuted in this case for having certain privileges: “We must recognize that in this fight against corruption there are a series of factors that often condition the actions of the Public Ministry. There are a series of jurisdictions, privileges and prerogatives that have prevented some people, who should be included in this file, but they are not, "said Ulloa.

The investigation of the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office in the Odebrecht case is due to the bribes that the Brazilian company gave in exchange for the allocation of public infrastructure works.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/case-against-102-odebrecht-defenfants-before-courts-in-december

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Former mayor threatens legal action against lobbyist

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Isobel Blandon

Posted 25/10/2020

Former Panama mayor and presidential candidate José Isabel Blandón the current president of the Panameñista Party announced Sunday that he will take legal action against Jaime Lasso, following his statements in the 'Knockout' column in La Prensa on Sunday.

In the interview, Lasso, who is part of the investigations carried out by the Public Ministry for bribes offered by Odebrecht, said that Blandón was one of the beneficiaries of the contributions handed out by the Brazilian company.

“There is no mention of José Blandon Figueroa in the investigations into the Odebrecht case. There are no deposits in accounts linked to me or checks in my name or anything like that, ”Blandón wrote on his social networks.

He said  that he will proceed legally both in civil and criminal matters "against Dr. Jaime Lasso for these false, insulting and slanderous statements."

In the Knockout,  reports La Prensa, Lasso says that everything he received from Odebrecht was used for campaigns, mayors, and others. By the way, he is consulted: In other words, Blandón? and responds: “Yes. That is why I am surprised that he says that the party did not benefit when he was one of those that benefited the most ”.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/former-mayor-threatens-legal-action-against-lobbyist

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Odebrecht lags in payment of $220 million fine

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Eduardo Ulloa

Posted 05/01/2021

AN INITIAL analysis concluded that the Odebrecht company has breached the penalty agreement that  was imposed on it said Attorney General Eduardo  Ulloa on Tuesday January 5

According to Ulloa the company "has not paid what was due" for the years 2019 and 2020 and he announced that the Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office will be requesting a hearing to demand compliance with the agreement before the courts.

At the end of December, the  Foundation for the Development of Citizen Freedom (the Panamanian chapter of Transparency International) asked to establish a “citizen oversight” regarding the agreement reached three years ago between the Attorney General's Office and the Odebrecht company, since - in in its  opinion - "it has not been the object of sustained accountability by the Public Ministry."

The Foundation's executive director, Olga de Obaldia, sent a 10-page note to the attorney Ulloa, requesting a response to a 17-question questionnaire on the scope and current status of the agreement reached with  André Rabello, former Odebrecht boss in Panama, validated on November 9, 2017, and the fine of $220 million agreed with the construction company, to be paid within a period of 12 years.

In a management report, Ulloa also said that, despite the fact that they had promised that the fiscal hearings of the Odebrecht and New Business case were issued last December, the number of infections of the new coronavirus within those offices (the Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office and the Office of the Prosecutor against Organized Crime) “reduced” its capacity-

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/odebrecht-lags-in-payment-of-220-million-fine-1

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Defaulting  Odebrecht will pay millions more

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Posted 08/01/2021

The failure to pay the fines that Odebrecht had agreed to pay in 2019 and 2020,  imposed for using the country's financial system to launder money and distribute bribes, were revealed in a virtual press conference by the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office on Friday        January 8.will cost the Brazilian constnruction company millions more.

The anti-corruption prosecutor Anilú Batista explained that in 2019, the construction company only paid $ 1.1 million, but had to pay $18.3 million, while in 2020 it did not pay anything.

She announced that they will apply the provision of the agreement ida(from November 2017) that says that an additional 5% will be charged for the amounts not paid annually.

The compliance section of the Public Ministry will be responsible for requesting a control hearing to analyze the matter. According to the prosecutor, they will do so once the judicial terms that are on pause by Covid-19 are restored.

The investigation ended last October with 101 defendants divided as follows: 61 structuring agents, 22 front men, and 18 final beneficiaries. Of those 18 final beneficiaries, 14 were civil servants, as explained by prosecutor Tania Sterling.

In total, the Brazilian construction company issued 251 "payment orders for illicit money."

Among the accused in the process are former presidents blic Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014), Juan Carlos Varela (2014-2019), as well as several former ministers, other officials who held key positions, and individuals.

So far, the government of Panama has recovered $48,051,571 as a result of the investigation into the payment of bribes from Odebrecht to officials and individuals. The money seized in accounts totals $21.3 million and in assets $15.3 million
 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/defaulting-odebrecht-will-pay-millions-more

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Missing laundering defendant denied change of bail

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Posted 20/02/2021

Danna Harrick, charged with money laundering in the Odebrecht case, who has not been seen in  Panama since August 2018 has lost an appeal to reduce her $500,00 bail bond. This, after the Second Court of Justice, confirmed in all its parts the decision of July 24, 2020 of the Twelfth Court, which did not accept a reconsideration of the amount of the bond.

The relationship to the case of Harrick, director of the National Council for Sustainable Development (Conades) during the Ricardo Martinelli administration (2009-2014) , arises when Andrés Mozes Libedinsky, another of the accused - and who reached a collaboration agreement with the Ministry Public -, he narrated that he traveled with Harrick to Andorra, where they formed Ralford Limited, a company that would have received funds from Aeon Group, one of the companies that Odebrecht used to distribute bribes.

According to the investigation, Aeon committed $3 million to the account of Ralford Limited, whose real beneficiary, according to what Mozes Libedinsky said, was Harrick.

Basilio Enrique González, Harrick's lawyer, said  that a reconsideration of the amount was requested based on the fact that his client was seized of her properties, including bank accounts, despite the fact that, all her assets are legal and he never received funds from Odebrecht.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/missing-laundering-defendant-denied-change-of-bail-1

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