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Sweetheart deal beneficiary appeals new probe


MAURICIO Cort tries to dodge another bullet

Posted 10/07/2019

A  convivted man whose testimony helped prosecutors link a  former Minister and the sons of ex-president Ricardo Martinelli and Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares to Odebrecht bribes is trying to shut down another corruption investigation.

Mauricio Cort, investigated for alleged money laundering to the detriment of the Ministry of Public Works, filed an appeal for guarantees before the full Supreme Court of Justice seeking  to cancel the investigation by the Special Anticorruption Prosecutor for alleged payment of bribes through the company Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas ( FCC ), contractor of section II of the Corredor-Vía Brasil project.  

The work, awarded in the government of Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) for $174.5 million, ended up costing $216.2 million.  

 Time lines
The investigation began April 27, 2017, based on an audit of the Office of the Comptroller. Since June 20, 2019 the case is in reserve.

It is up to Judge Hernán De León to decide whether or not to admit the appeal

In the case, the former Minister of Public Works (MOP )Federico Pepe Suárez is linked for alleged crimes against public administration along with the ex- MOP Director of Contracts Jorge Churro Ruiz, and his assistant Melina Cano. 

Suárez and  Cano are prevented from leaving the country, and Churro Ruiz is in custody.  

Judicial sources say that the Public Ministry kept the process in reserve based on Article 4 of Law 121 of 2013, which applies to investigations related to organized crime. The law allows the prosecution to protect sensitive information received from the investigation, with the purpose of not obstructing the investigations that are being carried out, as well as avoiding the possible escape of those linked to the process.

Sweetheart deal Mauricio Cort is one of those investigated bribes paid by Odebrecht, he agreed on a collaboration agreement and another on a  penalty with the Special Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office..

The court imposed a sentence of 48 months in prisonwhich was replaced by a fine of 200 days, at a rate of $250 per day, for a total of$ 50,000, which he had to pay in six months. He was also required to return $1.6 million in six months.



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Info  hidden on $100 million Panama bribes


Posted 14/07/2019

Panama’s The Public Ministry  has accepted that the Odebrecht company that paid scores of millions in bribes in Panama  did not tell the whole story, and  multiple probes  of high-level figures in the  Ricardo Martinelli era, including his two sons  continue

The information, was revealed through the filtering of 13,000  documents of the Structured Operations Sector (SOE) of Odebrecht and a good part does not appear in the judicial cases or official investigations carried out to date.  Reports La Prensa.

After the publication of the journalistic investigation of the  SOE, also known as the Bribery Division, the  Public Ministry confirmed that the construction company omitted information regarding its activities in Panama.

These are new company disclosures, nicknames that identified bribed officials and subcontractor companies of Odebrecht - among them, the Panamanian International Project Company (Cipsa) -, through which the Brazilian construction company laundered funds destined for Caja 2. or SOE.

The new information comes from a leak of  documents from the Drousys system, the SOE secret messaging, which has been disclosed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ ), to which La Prensa has access

These documents described payments whose orders came-through emails-from executives and SOE operatives, among them, the assistant of Marcos Grillo, the one in charge at the SOE to increase the funds for bribes, who operated with the alias Noshua , in which multiple transfers of hundreds of thousands of dollars are described in the so-called "Operation Panama", of which the Public Prosecutor confirmed that there are no records.

Although Odebrecht indicated that it has collaborated with the prosecutor's office by providing information that allows it to identify the beneficiaries and those of identity masked with nicknames, the Public Ministry said the company has not mentioned all the nicknames of Panamanian officials. In the SOE they, mention - some 32 aliases linked to the payment of bribes with funds extracted from public works awarded to Odebrecht in Panama.

The Anti-Corruption Special Prosecutor's Office said that for each work mentioned in the publications (10 projects) an investigation was initiated. However, the Odebrecht file is paralyzed in judicial stalling and reiterated that they require that they are granted a longer period to continue investigating, a request that was denied by the Twelfth Criminal Court.

The sum of the bribes of Odebrecht to Panamanian officials exceeds $100 million, says the Public Ministry.

On November 9, 2017, twelfth criminal judge, Óscar Carrasquilla, validated effective collaboration agreements with three Odebrecht executives. It is unknown how these agreements stand in light of the new findings.



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$500.000 bail   for $3 million laundering suspect


Posted 25/07/2019

A  Martinelli era government official who fled to the United States while facing money laundering charges must pay  $500,000 bail to avoid being detained in the Odebrecht case.

The ruling for Danna Harrick, a former director of the National Council for Sustainable Development (Conades) came from the Second Superior Criminal Court that reversed a decision of the Twelfth Criminal Court that denied the bail request.

Substitute magistrate Clelia De La Rosa said that Harrick submitted the bail request several times, demonstrating her willingness to appear in the process.

Harrick, who served as director of Conades between 2009 and 2014, is investigated for alleged money laundering,

The court's ruling records the opinion of anti-corruption prosecutor Zuleyka Moore, who opposed bail. Moore said  the businessman Andrés Mozes Libedinsky, investigated in the Odebrecht bribery case  - and who reached a collaboration agreement with the Public Ministry - revealed that his sister-in-law, Danna Harrick, invited him to join a supposed business of buying construction equipment for Panama and the Dominican Republic, and as she was an official, she asked him to sign the contracts.

Mozes Libedinsky said he traveled with Harrick to Andorra, where they formed the Ralford Limited company, which in turn would have received funds from Aeon Group, one of the companies that Odebrecht used to distribute bribes. In total, Aeon set aside $3 million in the account of Ralford Limited, whose real beneficiary, according to what Mozes Libedinsky said, was Harrick. The prosecutor also recalled that the former official left Panama on August 1, 2018, to Fort Lauderdale, US, and has not returned, "a clear indication of avoiding the process."



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No extension to investigate 82 prominent  bribery recipients  confirmed


Anti-cirruption prosecutor Tania Sterling

Posted 09/08/2019

The anti-corruption prosecutor  Tania Sterling confirmed  on Friday, August 9 that the Public Ministry  now  have in their hands the ruling of the Second Superior Court of Justice that denied extending the deadline to continue investigating the payment of bribes paid by Odebrecht to 82 high profile people in Panama

She said they will now look for "the legal formula" to continue "to the last consequences" with the case.

She said it was "an unfortunate decision, taking into account that it is an investigation that still had  much to develop ... and I say give because we do not give up on the issue of exhausting all recursive instances to which we can turn after a thorough analysis “

According to what anti-corruption prosecutors have disclosed, Odebrecht distributed more than $ 100 million in bribes in the country. Between 2010 and 2014, when Ricardo Martinelli was president of the Republic, they would have paid $ 96.7 million in exchange for public works contracts. While between 2006 and 2008, with Martín Torrijos as ruler, according to prosecutors, they would have delivered bribes for about $ 10 million.

They reported that five projects awarded under the presidency of Juan Carlos Varela (2009-2014) were investigated. The Panamenista n Party, of  Varela would have received $10 million from the construction company through former South Korean ambassador Jaime Lasso, via the V-tech and Poseidon societies.

Between 2006-2008, during the management of Torrijos, Odebrecht was awarded three works: the Remigio Rojas system, Cinta Costera  1 and the Madden-Colón highway.



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Another Odebrecht bribery suspect walks free


Lymberópulos. slips the hook for the second time

Posted 16/08/2019

Panama’s Public Ministry has received another blow to its investigation of some $90 million paid in brines by the Odebrecht company as a Supreme Court ruling lets a prominent businessman off, the hook in a process related to Odebrecht bribes paid by  Odebrecht.

in a July 31 ruling  The Second Superior Criminal Court quashed the investigation of money laundering by Fotis  Lymberópulos.

The court received an appeal filed by Lymberópulos's defense against the order of inquiry issued by the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office

The lawyers argued that the prosecution filed charges with Lymberópulos for the alleged money laundering, using the criminal bribery as a precedent, although by the date the facts were recorded [the year 2007] said the crime was not classified as national legislation

They warned that the prosecution of the Public Ministry was based on the fact that Marpesca Seatrade, LLC, linked to Lymberópulos, received three transfers: $ 225,000, $271,000 and $190,000 between April and May 2007, from Odebrecht, the date on which the Criminal Code of 1982 was in force, which did not include the crime of international bribery as a precedent for money laundering.

The court's ruling coincides with the defense of Lymberópulos, arguing that at the time of the facts investigated the crime of international corruption was not in force in Panama as a precedent for money laundering crimes.

On November 21, 2018, the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor,, ordered the investigation of Lymberópulos, after it obtained information that Marpesca Seatrade LLC allegedly received funds from Odebrecht, transactions that were channeled through the SunTrust Bank.

The prosecution obtained the data, after the collaboration agreements reached with former directors of Odebrecht, who provided information on the basis of the alleged payment of bribes made to natural and legal persons.

According to these documents, Odebrecht made payments to accounts of companies linked to the corruption scheme, among which was Marpesca Seatrade, LLC.

According to the prosecution, Marpesca Seatrade, LLC is a company incorporated in the jurisdiction of Florida, United States, and among its directors are Lymberópulos and Darío Picans.

In a statement to the prosecution, Picans said that the company had offices in the United States and that financial matters were handled by Lymberópulos, who owned the company. However, he said he had no knowledge about commercial relations with the Constructora Internacional del Sur or with Odebrecht.

Last week, the Second Court also denied the prosecution a new extension to conclude the investigation of the Odebrecht case.

In 2017, the Second Superior Court confirmed a decision of the Fifteenth Court to annul charges and the order to investigate Lymberópulos in the case of helicopter rental through the National Assistance Program.



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$28 billion in debt,Odebrecht presents restructuring plan


Posted 28/08/2019

The Odebrecht holding company, $28 billion in debt.  Has presented its judicial reorganization plan to the creditors, proposing that they exchange their accounts receivable for payment values based on the company's future results.

In a statement, the executive director, Luciano Guidolin, said that a reduction in the debt resulting from the agreement will guarantee "productive activity, preservation of employment and creation of value for all concerned."

The holding company, the core of the conglomerate that extends from construction (which includes  Constructora Odebrecht ) to oil and gas, declared bankruptcy in Brazil on June 17. On Monday, August 26, the conglomerate requested that the judicial protection obtained in Brazil be extended to the United States, where the procedure is known as Chapter 15, in reference to the chapter of the law dealing with said procedure.

Chapter 15 protects assets abroad, thus avoiding actions of creditors while the company judicially executes its recovery plan.

This is the largest corporate bankruptcy in Brazil and Latin America, above the $19 billion debt that the telecommunications company Oi had in 2016.

Odebrecht, which sought to restructure about $ 1.3 billion of its own debt, was affected by tensions in early June when the group's ethanol unit sought bankruptcy protection and talks with LyondellBasell Industries NV about the Braskem, SA petrochemical unit collapse.

The conglomerate has been struggling to recover from the consequences of the Lava Jato corruption investigation in Brazil. The investigation, which began in 2014, halted the construction industry, as access to government projects was cut and executives were jailed.

In Panama, it gained billions of dollars in contracts from successive governments for projects like Metro Lines 1 and 2, and the rejuvenation of Colon

Investigations into some $90 million in bribes to high profile Panamanians, including the Ricardo Martinelli siblings, have been stymied by the courts.

Odebrecht paid millions in fines in other Latin American countries, including Panama, and its portfolio of new projects has declined, which adds to the cash crisis.

The bonds issued by Odebrecht have long been traded at difficult levels, and the perpetual notes are now quoted at about 6 cents per dollar.



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Odebrecht on Development Bank blacklist  for five years


Posted 04/09/2019

The  Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has put the construction company Norberto Odebrecht (CNO) on its blacklist over bribery cases and it will not be able to participate in projects financed by the bank until August 2024.  

The IDB Office of Institutional Integrity found that the Brazilian company paid bribes in two projects financed by the bank: the Tacoma hydroelectric plant in  Venezuela and the Highway Rehabilitation Program in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The company paid bribes to officials to facilitate the achievement of the contract, to receive payments for the execution of the project or for addenda to the contracts.

According to the IDB investigation, the payments represented between 5% and 6% of the amount of the contracts, including addenda.

In the case of highway rehabilitation in Sao Paulo, Norberto Odebrecht would have paid around $380,000 between 2006 and 2008.

For the Tocoma hydroelectric plant, the evidence obtained by the IDB office indicates that between 2007 and 2015 illicit payments and transactions were made for up to  118 million, using a complex network of agents and offshore financial structures.

The sanction is the result of a resolution agreement negotiated between the IDB, IDB Invest and Odebrecht, on behalf of its subsidiaries CNO and Odebrecht Engenharia e Construção (OEC).

Once the sanction is completed, a period of 10 years for OEC and four for the CNO will be opened in which they will be able to participate in the projects financed by the IDB, only if they meet a series of conditions embodied in the agreement.

As part of the sanctions, Odebrecht must make contributions of $50 million as of 2024 to non-governmental organizations or charities that manage social projects in IDB member countries.

In addition, 19 subsidiaries of CNO including  Constructora Norberto Odebrecht of Panama, are subject to disqualification.

The Brazilian company confessed in 2016 the payment of bribes for a total of $788 million distributed in 12 countries, including Panama.



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Odebrecht lied about scale of Panama kickbacks


Posted 05/09/2019

The string of bad news for construction company Norberto Odebrecht continues at an accelerated pace. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) put the Brazilian company and its subsidiaries on its blacklist because it used funds from at least two of its projects to pay bribes. The sanction implies that for five years, as of August 30, the companies of this construction group will not be able to participate in projects financed by this bank. Probably, other international financial institutions copy these actions and close other financing lines for this company. Recall that the top executives of Odebrecht lied in their accusations, omitting the number of kickbacks s they actually paid and hiding the identity of their benefactors. Three Panamanian governments made Odebrecht the largest contractor in the history of this country, however, neither the Public Procurement Law, nor the effective collaboration agreements negotiated by the Public Ministry and ratified by the Judicial Branch, exclude them from tenders In Panama. The IDB's decision contrasts with the warmth of the authorities and shows the way forward. In the end, transparency does pay.-LA PRENSA, Sep. 5



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Ex-Public works official jailed 9 years for Odebrech  bribes


Carlos Ho

Posted 17/09/2019

Carlos Ho the former head of Special Projects of the Ministry of Public Works (MOP),  was sentenced on Monday, September 16. to 108 months in jail for crimes against public administration and money laundering linked to the Odebrecht bribery scandal.  

The sentence followed a plea deal hearing held in the Twelfth Criminal Court, by Judge Óscar Carrasuilla. 

The judge reduced a third of the sentence, as the defendant accepted the charges, leaving him to serve  72 months in prison. Ho was also recognized for the 24 months he spent in preventive detention.

He received funds from the Department of Structured Operations – bribes  - of Odebrecht, because of his position in the MOP, and with which he could have acquired a series of properties that, exceeded his borrowing capacity versus his salary.



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Peru jails 14 lawyers as Panama sleeps


Posted 05/11/2019

While Panama’s search for justice in the Odebrecht bribery scandal has yet to put any prominent figures from previous administrations behind bars other Latin American countries caught up in the billions of dollars corruption net are less forgiving.

The Judicial Branch of  Peru issued 18 months of preventive detention against 14 of the 16 legal arbitrators accused of favoring the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht to the detriment of the State, within the framework of the corruption scandal.

Jorge Chavez, magistrate of the Third Court of Investigation in Crimes of Corruption, said that the ruling "accepted the prosecution  proposal that the high fees of the arbitrators are an undercover bribe."

In reading the resolution, he pointed out that the arbitration proceedings in which the accused lawyers participated "were murky, favorable to Odebrecht with special characteristics" and explained that he was going to pronounce for the alleged commission of the crime of specific passive bribery against all the referees.

"A bribe is never public, it always seeks to hide," Chavez said.

Among those sentenced is the lawyer Humberto Abanto, defender of the former secretary-general of the populist right-wing Popular Force party, Jaime Yoshiyama, who is serving 18-months jail for alleged money laundering in the corruption.

The Prosecutor's Office investigating corruption cases in Brazil's Odebrecht had requested 36 months of preventive detention for alleged bribery and money laundering crimes.

Prosecutor Aleman Juárez alleged that the arbitrators had allegedly issued awards in favor of Odebrecht and to the detriment of the State for up to $281 million.

The thesis of the Prosecutor's Office is that the Brazilian construction company would have bribed arbitrators to decide in their favor in 26 controversies that it had with the State.

Judge Chávez rejected the serious suspicion of committing the crimes of illicit association to commit crimes, aggravated collusion and money laundering, which the prosecution advanced.

The two lawyers who were not sentenced to pretrial detention were Emilio Cassina Rivas because of his age (80 years) and health status, who received an 18-months house arrest, as well as his son Emilio Cassina Ramón, in appearance with restrictions.

The opposition leader Keiko Fujimori, whose Popular Force party controlled the Congress, which was dissolved on September 30 by President Martín Vizcarra, is also investigated and imprisoned for this case.



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OPINION: Odebrecht cover-up threatens Panama

Posted 20/12/2019

Marcelo Odebrecht's revelations regarding corruption practices not yet ended by the company are a serious blow to the credibility of its good corporate governance. However, there were already suspicions that the Brazilian construction company had not been entirely honest when it confessed to the United States Department of Justice the amount of the bribes  paid in each country where it operated.

This was evident in Panama and Peru, where the sum of what the company had admitted was very  far from what it actually paid in bribes. Today, poor management, diversion of funds and other factors - perhaps even of a corrupt nature - keep the company in a serious situation, with debts of billions of dollars.

 And of this, Marcelo Odebrecht accuses not only his father, Emilio, but the recently elected president of the group. Panama must seriously consider rethinking its agreements with the informers, who may be withholding information, as Marcelo Odebrecht himself has denounced. We should also develop an action plan in case the company cannot assume the payment of the fines imposed in Panama.- LA PRENSA,Dec. 20



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Moderator comment: Text highlighting below done by the moderator; it was not part of the news article itself.


Prosecutor gets 5 months to close Panama’s biggest corruption probe


Zuleyka Moore

Posted 08/01/2020

Prosecutor Zuleyka Moore has been granted five more months to complete investigations into the Odebrecht bribery scandal after a Superior Court unanimously overturned a ruling by Judge Oscar Carrasquilla that denied her request for an extension.

Panama remains the only country where no one has been punished, although at least $90 million was paid in bribes

Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares, sons of former president Ricardo Martinelli the former Minister of Public Works Federico José Suárez, and the businessman Aaron Mizrachi Malca were constituted as third parties.

Brazilian construction company Odebrecht has been the largest contractor of the Panamanian state in history. Through three governments obtained contracts that included an irrigation project, three stages of the Cinta Costera,  highways, the bay sanitation project, the expansion of the Tocumen International Airport, the reconstruction of the city of Colón, an electrical interconnection line, the expansion of the Pan-American highway and two lines of Panama Metro.

The size of the projects and the amount of the contracts only are dwarfed against the complex plot of corruption and international bribery that should be investigated reports La Prensa.

It is  the most complex criminal investigation of recent times in Panama.

According to the ruling of the First Superior Court of the First Judicial District, of January 3, 2020, collecting the data provided by the Public Ministry, the Odebrecht case has 600 volumes, , 122 people related to the investigation, 495 banking accounts analyzed,, 416 companies used for money laundering, all of which required 123 requests for international assistance.

The investigations faced multiple obstacles that included, to date, 184 incidents, 14 constitutional guarantees, and 10 criminal electoral jurisdictions, all of which delayed the investigation and made it difficult to obtain evidence in Panama and other countries.

The investigation faced its biggest obstacles in the repeated refusals of Judge Oscar Carrasquilla, of the Twelfth Circuit Court

. Carrasquilla denied the first request for extension made by prosecutor Zuleika Moore, in  October 2017. The prosecutor appealed to the Second Superior Court, where for months the file was paused, until April  2018 when the court granted the first extension for a term of one year.

In the meantime, between appeals for the defense of the 82 accused and the electoral process, the case slowed down.

 Prosecutor Moore requested a new extension in March 2019, but was again denied by Judge Carrasquilla,. The prosecutor again appealed to the Second Superior Court of the First Judicial District, which decided, On August 2, 2019, reiterate the refusal to extend the investigation.

 It was at that time that prosecutor Moore had one last option: the protection of constitutional guarantees.

This extraordinary resource seeks to restore the legal order recognized by the Political Constitution and international conventions ratified by the country, and that has been violated by an order to do or not to do, issued by a public servant. Moore attacked Judge Carrasquilla's refusal to extend the term of the investigation. Her arguments were: the violation of the constitutional right to due process, and the impact that it would have on the Panamanian people ‘s right to the truth.

Within the process of constitutional guarantees, 4 of the 82 defendants were constituted as intervening third parties: brothers Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares, represented by the firm of lawyer Carlos Carrillo; former Minister of Public Works Federico José Suárez, represented by lawyer Rosendo Rivera; and businessman Aaron Mizrachi Malca, represented by the firm Guerra y Guerra. The court found no greater merit in the allegations and arguments presented by these parties that, however, as third parties involved may appeal the decision of the First Superior Court to the plenary of the Supreme Court.

The investigation still faces major risks says La Prensa. With the arrival of the new Attorney General. Eduardo Ulloa, there could be a situation where prosecutor Moore was transferred, and a rookie prosecutor would l handle such a complex case. Another threat is that the National Police does not assign the appropriate number of quality investigators to accompany the prosecutionPanama would remain the only democratic country in which the Odebrecht case goes unpunished.



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Odebrecht bribery case stalled once again


Frustrated anti-corruption prosecutor zuyleka Moore

Posted 20/01/2020

Only days after a superior court granted anti-corruption prosecutors more time to conclude their investigations of the Odebrecht bribery case, it has been stalled once again because of fresh appeals and is now in the hands of the slow-moving Supreme Court.

The process remained in the Court because lawyers from three of the defendants appealed the decision of the First Superior Court to grant another five months to the prosecution to continue investigating.

Sources from the Judicial Branch confirmed to La Prensa that those who filed the appeals were the lawyers of Luis Enrique and Ricardo Alberto Martinelli,  the fugitive sons of former president Ricardo Martinelli. and of the former Minister of Public Works, Federico Pepe Suarez.

On January 3, the First Superior Court, under the presentation of Judge Olga Rujano, received a constitutional guarantee protection presented by the prosecutor Zuleyka Moore to be granted more investigation time.



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New anti corruption prosecutors to strengthen  Odebrecht probe


Dicardo Ulloa

Posted 30/01/2020

The  names of two new Special Anti-corruption Prosecutors who  will strengthen the team  investigating  the sores of millions of bribes paid by Odebrecht in Panama will be announced Monday says  Attorney General, Eduardo Ulloa

"These are measures that we are taking to strengthen the position of the Public Ministry, within all these high profile cases," he said.

The Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office was created in January 2017. At that instance, prosecutors Zuleyka Moore, Tania Sterling, Ruth Morcillo and Vielka Broce were assigned. The latter has already retired.

On the other hand, Ulloa - who took office last January 2, replacing Kenya Porcell - reported that three prosecutors and an administrative official were fired for committing “improper” He did not specify their names.

The AG stressed that the message for prosecutors is that they must have a commitment to fulfill their obligations and to society, which demands effective work to ensure safety.

On Odebrecht, Ulloa said that once the procedural times are met, the case will be resumed and actions will be taken to ensure that this case is investigated from its beginning to the end.

“The investigation has to be complete. There cannot be a selective investigation and it has to cover all those people who in one way or another have had some criminal involvement with this company. Although they are high profile politicians; there is no distinction here, ”he said.

The First Superior Court authorized an extension of just over five months for the prosecution to investigate, but the decision was appealed by three of those involved: Luis Enrique and Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares - sons of former President Ricardo Martinelli - and the former Minister of Public Works, Federico Suárez. The case is now in the Supreme Court.



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Sole detained Odebrecht suspect walks free


Posted 30/01/2020

The only person detained in Panama in the multi-million dollar Odebrecht corruption investigation was released on Wednesday, January  29  after the Supreme Court declared the arrest warrant issued by the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office illegal.

The detention of  Fredy Barco Vera, of Ecuadorian nationality, was ordered on May 10, 2019, in the middle of the investigation of the  Odebrecht case,

The court made the decision after Barco Vera's defense filed a habeas corpus in which he claimed that his client's arrest warrant was filed outside the investigation term.

The ruling, by Judge Efrén Tello, is dated December 10, 2019, but was made public this week.



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Reunforcements for Odebrecht prosecution team


Attorney General

Posted 02/02/2020

Attorney General Eduardo Ulloa revealed on Sunday, February 2 the names of prosecutors Anilú Batista and Azucena Aizpurúa who will join the team led by Anti-Corruption Prosecutor Zuleika Moore investigating the Odebrecht multi-million dollar corruption scandal.

Among those under investigation are numerous high ranking officials in the Ricardo Martinelli administration, and his twoo They will begin their work on Monday, February 3.

Batista and Aizpurúa before being assigned to this investigation served as circuit prosecutors.

On January 6, 2020, the First Superior Court of Justice granted the protection of constitutional guarantees presented by Moore, in order to revoke the decision of the criminal judge Óscar Carrasquilla, who denied him the extension.

The First Superior Court considered that the “preparatory investigation” in the Odebrecht case can be extended for up to 5 months and 8 days, since the last year of extension granted to the prosecutor's office (counted as of April 25, 2018), only Six months and 22 days have elapsed (to be computed from August 25, 2018 to March 19, 2019).

However, the case remained in the hands of the magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice.

The process remains in the Supreme Court of because lawyers from three of the defendants appealed the decision of the First Superior Court to grant another 5 months and 8 more days to the prosecution to continue investigating.



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Probe continues into ex-ambassador’s links to Odebrecht scandal


Jaime Lasso

Posted 14/02/2020

The Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's questioning of Jaime Lasso,  Panama’s former ambassador to South Korea, over links to the Odebrecht bribery scandal  was suspended on Thursday afternoon and will resume on Monday, February 17.

Documents of  the Lava Jato operation unveiled in 2019, to which TVN News had access show  Poseidón Enterprises LLC, linked  to Michelle Lasso, daughter of the former ambassador

Jaime Lasso, received several payments of $400,000  t through the Meinl Bank in  Antigua, which also brought together 42 other offshore accounts used by Odebrecht.

In addition, investigations carried out by the Public Prosecutor indicate that Lasso would have received at least $10 million from the Brazilian construction company, money that went into the coffers of the Panamanizta n Party through various companies.

In 2017, La Estrella de Panamá, revealed that the supposed money received by Lasso, was used for the election campaign of the former president, Juan Carlos Varela  

In a phone conversation with TVN News, at the time, Lasso denied receiving that amount of money.



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MEDIAWATCH: Former ambassador remains on Odebrecht  interrogation hot seat


Posted 19/02/2020

Panama’s former ambassador to South Korea Jaime Lasso , remains  the target of investigations by the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor, i the Odebrecht case . Lasso has appeared from last week until now, at least, three times for interrogation, plus previous interviews in  2017,

Presumably, prosecutors seek evidence of the alleged bribes that Odebrecht would have paid to prominent figures of the Panamenista  Party, through companies whose final beneficiary was Lasso. Reports La Prensa.

The former diplomat is linked to two companies (Poseidon Enterprises Llc. And V-Tech Ltd) and a foundation (Don James), which were recipients of money from the Structured Operations Sector of Odebrecht (used to disburse bribes to governments).

In the first two companies, Lasso would have received at least $5.8 million from Odebrecht, and in the foundation at least another $700,000, the latter, destined for the 2009 campaign, Lasso alleges.

According to documents to which La Prensa had access last year, it would be necessary to investigate, in addition to Lasso, another $10 million that Odebrecht deposited to people linked to a character which is only identified with its alias: Cachaza.

But the  research needs the help of  André Rabello  former Odebrecht boss in Panam who is one of the very few people who can identify by their true names the recipients of the dirty money of Odebrecht. He has so far shown little cooperation in the investigations in Panama.

Dr Lasso said  "I will come as many times as I have to come to clarify to the Public Ministry what I need clarified," in one of his appearances at the, headquarters of the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office. It has transpired that in the interrogations, Lasso has answered questions about his heritage and his links with Rabello, whom he met shortly before the 2009 elections, when he began receiving money from Box 2 of Odebrecht.

Lasso remains in his original version said that the funds received from the Brazilian construction company were used to pay campaign expenses, to suppliers, media, advertising, all services associated with the Panamanian Party campaigns.

But, the story has other nuances, when Lasso - in the so-called VarelaLeaks - addresses the issue with former President Juan Carlos Varela , in conversations - via chat - when the investigation of the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office addressed his questions to the origin of the money and what Lasso would have done with this one. And it is that Lasso, played a fundamental role, because he was the intermediary - as well as his companies - to receive and then distribute the money that came from Odebrecht for the expenses of the 2009 election campaign.

What does not add up says La Prensa is that, after the 2009 elections, these two offshore companies in Lasso - Poseidon and V-Tech - continued to receive millions of dollars from the Odebrecht Structured Operations Sector that have not been justified. And, precisely, of the money Lasso received, he spoke in an interview with the newspaper El País, from Spain, an Odebrecht financial operator: Rodrigo Tacla Durán.

After the publication of the interview, Varela chatted to Lasso to reassure him. Tacla Durán mentioned Michelle Lasso - Jaime's daughter - when she said that at the time that Varela was vice president (2009-2014) “funds were sent to Michelle Lasso, a person linked to the politician who had an account at the Odebrecht bank. . ”

Varela held “RM” (presumably Ricardo Martinelli) responsible for the publication in Spain. Varela wrote: "This started ... Everything will be fine ... RM put it forward ... Diario Las Américas, now El País . Everything will be fine ... She [Michelle] will only follow your instructions at the time ... And everything will be coordinated ... AR [presumably André Rabello, former head of Odebrecht in Panama] was clear: that everything was lobby for access to Panama [eñismo ] ... It's quiet ... We are leading the process ... Here I am always ... We took out of power a criminal group that took over a billion ... ".

The strategy coordination meetings to address this issue were several, judging by the alleged communications of Varela and Lasso.

One of them would have been carried out on July 31, 2017, together with the brother of the ruler, the then deputy and president of the Panamenista  Party, José Luis Popi Varela.

Days later, Lasso would have written to Varela that Banvivienda was going to close his accounts and fixed terms. Varela would have responded that "... Banvivienda ... They handled all of Martín's crap [presumably former president Torrijos] ... Including the loan to Martiz [presumably Alfredo, former ambassador of Panama in Japan and former director of the Social Security Fund, appointed in the Varela government] when they sold him the Consulate and [the] Embassy of Japan ... ”.

Lasso would have told Varela that "it is about time that we approached the MP [Public Ministry] to make an affidavit about my relationship with them [Odebrecht] etc., etc., and not to continue reacting anything else". On August 8, 2017, Lasso seems to have taken the first steps to do so.

 He wrote a letter to the MP that would have offered to send it to Varela. He would have replied that "it is good for recipients to see it before ... sending." Lasso also tells him that he has sent the letter to "P" (probably Popi) and "BV" (probably Beby Valderrama).

"They are scared of the extradition of their children ..." Varela would have told him, to which Lasso replied: "They did steal and nothing was enough ... Really dizzy and have not stopped attacking my daughter etc ..." . Varela would have concluded: "That's right ... They bleached in 99 ... And in all their companies ... Stolen money." Later, Varela would have advised him to "call the Lady [presumably the attorney, Kenia  Porcell] through P ...".Lasso replied that "She appointed a certain Elias ... to ask for him ... The note will be taken by M [probably Michelle, her daughter] with my driver ... I don't want it leaked."



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Anti corruption prosecctor fights to  nail Odebrecht bribery suspect


Albertp Rojas

Posted 19/02/2020

Panama;s dogged anti-corruption prosecutor, Zuleyka Moore heading up the Odebrecht bribery investigation will try on Thursday for the third time to question former Deputy  Jorge Alberto Rosas and get details of how who and by whom his law firm Rosas & Rosas received in 2010 at least $2.1 million dollars from the company Constructora Internacional del Sur for the payment of bribes.

The first attempt was Friday, February 14 and Rosas excused himself. The second was on Tuesday, February 18, when Rosas's lawyer filed an incident of controversy against the decision of the First Superior Court to extend the time of the investigation.

The process started on January 18, 2017, has 900 volumes and is classified as a complex case of organized crime.

There are 82 people charged with crimes involving money laundering, international bribery, and corruption of officials.

According to the Public Ministry, 16 penalty agreements have been reached with people who have provided valuable information and this has allowed the recovery of $230 million.

Odebrecht, , promised to pay a fine of $ 220 million in 12 years.

Moore, who since February 3 has the support of two additional prosecutors has pending investigations of  at least 12 other people.


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Ex-lawmaker gets preventive detention in money laundering probe


Late show Jorge Rosas

Posted 21/02/2020

The Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor yesterday ordered the arrest and provisional detention of former Panamenista deputy and lawyer Jorge Alberto Rosas part of the investigations into the payment of Odebrecht's bribes.

Rosas, cited for the third time in for money laundering in by prosecutor Zuleyka Moore turned up late. He accepted article 25 of the Constitution, which says that no one is obliged to testify in a criminal matter

The former deputy arrived at the prosecutor's headquarters at 10:45 am,  for his 9 am appointment along with his lawyer Juan Carlos Guerra. Almost six hours later he was taken to a cell of the Directorate of Judicial Investigation of the National Police.

Guerra said the prosecutor chose the most serious measure on the grounds that there are sufficient elements of conviction in the file and that his client could escape the investigation of money laundering.

He described the measure dictated by Moore as "arbitrary" and argued that it did not take into account that Rosas is "diabetic" and that has had "six bypasses".



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OPINION: A tele-soap opera and dark players


Posted 26/02/2020

Odebrecht, the protagonist of the most famous corruption tele-soap opera in Latin America, has agreed to meet with its creditors on March 18. This is a new attempt to put the house in order, of a construction company that has been eaten away by corruption scandals, judicial dramas and family conflicts of those who gave it its name and surname.

Although it is not clear what the company's strategy will be with its creditors and financiers, the obvious reasoning leads to consider that the company needs more contracts to survive. While the Panamanian investigative authorities have given a new air to the judicial case, it remains unclear how the State will guarantee the fulfillment of the works committed and the recovery of badly used monies. 

Panama must be alert with respect to these negotiations because what is decided there will affect us directly. It is unforgivable that public officials continue to allow this company to hire in our country, especially if it maintains fundamental information about its coimas (bribes) and the dark-hearted ones. – LA PRENSA, Feb 26



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Ex-lawmaker “harmed Panorama’s image“denied parole


Posted 05/03/2020

Former parliamentary deputy Jorge Alberto Rosas under investigation for money laundering in the Odebrecht case was denied bail on Thursday, March 5  as a possible escapee and for now, will remain in El Renacer prison.

Twelfth Criminal Court  Judge Óscar Carrasquilla denied the application on the grounds that the crimes for which he is being prosecuted are of a “serious” nature.

He added that in this case the Panamanian society was harmed and that if the bail bond is admitted, there may be “danger of escape”, and the possibility of “documents that are related to the process being destroyed”.

The judge also held that money laundering, a crime that is accused of not only harms the economy of the State but also the "corporate and banking image of Panama."

Carrasquilla said that with this case [bribes paid by Odebrecht] not only injured Panama but also in various countries around the world. Therefore, he added, it is required that all the accused remain linked to the process so that their development is not affected.

The document also states that Rosas, through his law firm Rosas y Rosas, received bank transfers in the account 0101074806, from HSBC, now Banistmo, of companies that were part of the Department of Structured Operations of Odebrecht (bribes department of the construction company), a fact that was evidenced in the company account statements.



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Country arrest for ex-ambassador in laundering probe


Posted 14/03/2020

Former Panamanian Ambassador to South Korea,  Dr Jaime Lasso who was the link-man between Oderbrecht the Brazilian construction company and the Panameñista Party cannot leave Panama without judicial authorization and must report on the 10th of each month.

The former Odebrecht lobbyist under investigation for alleged money laundering visited the anticorruption prosecution's headquarters, for the third time on Friday, March 13,.  He was accompanied by his lawyer, who was wearing a mask.

In the two previous appearances, the doctor told prosecutor Zuleyka Moore that former President  Juan Carlos Varela and his brother, former deputy  José Luis Popi Varela, knew that the Odebrecht company which confessed to paying bribes in Panama in exchange for contracts with the State, Contributed funds to the campaign of the Panameñista party since 2009 and, at least, until 2012.

Lasso is linked to the Don James Foundation and two companies: V Tech and Poseidon Enterprises –with accounts in AOB and Meinl banks, respectively company fed by Odebrecht funds, through its Sector Structured Operations, which in practice was the office used to pay bribes.

"I was the person who participated as a liaison for electoral political support from 2009 to December 2012. In subsequent years, I have no idea if the support continued," Lasso told prosecutor Moore in his first interrogations.

"I only touched on these issues with Juan Carlos Varela and José Luis Varela ... I did not relate to anyone else nor did I discuss this with anyone else," he said.



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Panama  banker charged as  multi-million Odebrecht bribery probe expands


Posted 17/03/2020

Panama banker Juan Antonio Niño has been charged with money laundering linked to the Odebrecht bribery investigation.

 The charges are related to alleged checks that Odebrecht sent to the banker's personal account to finance part of the Panamenista Party's political campaign in  2009 and, at least, until 2012.

This would not be the first time that Niño has been mentioned in the Odebrecht bribery case. As early as 2017, the Prosecutor's Office had asked the Swiss authorities for legal assistance related to money transfers through the reinsurance company Active Capital, which is linked to the businessman.

The Sherkson company, which would have been used by Odebrecht to transfer millions of dollars as a  result of the bribes, received a payment from the Active Capital Holdings company, chaired by Niño.

The information was revealed when the Swiss Public Ministry sent a rogatory letter to Panama in which it asked the then-Attorney General of the Nation, Kenya Porcell, information to complete the investigations that it was carrying out against the Brazilian construction company.

This is the third person close to the inner circle of former President Juan Carlos Varela (2014-2019) and his brother, former deputy José Luis Varela, who is on the radar of the Public Ministry for the Odebrecht ays La Prensa.

On February 20, the former Panamanian deputy and lawyer Jorge Alberto Rosas was arrested and is in the Renacer prison.

Former ambassador and lobbyist Jaime Lasso went to the prosecutor's office three times, and on Friday, March 13 he was placed under country arrest , and must also be notified on the 10th of each month in the Public Ministry.

According to the investigations of the Prosecutor's Office, the Panameñista Party would have received at least $10 million from Odebrecht, through different companies managed by



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Prosecution wins a round in massive bribery probe


Posted 15/09/2020

The Supreme Court of Justice reversed a decision of the Second Superior Court, which had declared void a new line of investigation by the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office related to the bribes paid by the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht and which is now in the Fourth Criminal Court.

In a ruling of May 6, 2020 and under the presentation of Judge Ángela Russo, the Court revoked order No. 61-SI of September 21, 2019, which declared the investigation and a request for assistance null. judicial to the Swiss Confederation, Antigua and Barbados and the British Virgin Islands.

The ruling resolved a constitutional guarantee protection presented by the special anti-corruption prosecutor Tania Sterling, who assured that, contrary to what was affirmed by the Panamanian businessman Iván González - indicated in the investigation - his fundamental guarantees have not been violated.

González's defense alleged that, as part of the investigations into the alleged crimes committed by Odebrecht, the prosecution carried out proceedings with a view to investigating companies and companies linked to his client, without the latter having a lawyer to represent him.

According to González's lawyers, those proceedings included legal assistance requested by the prosecution from the authorities of the British Virgin Islands and Antigua and Barbuda, thereby violating the rules of procedural equality.

However, the Court concluded that although due process and international conventions recognize the right of every person to appoint a lawyer when appointed as part of an investigation, in this case it was proven that when the Public Ministry requested international assistance It did not handle elements that would make it possible to clearly determine the links of people with the illegal ones.

In addition, he stressed that it is not a procedural requirement to appoint a public defender to notify a person that the prosecution plans to carry out investigative acts.

Likewise, the magistrates highlighted that in this case, still considered as “summary under investigation,” González is not charged and only has the category of accused.

Sources from the Public Ministry detailed that this investigation, which began in 2017 based on information provided by the Swiss authorities, is related to activities of the company Flerigan International which, like the companies Klienfeld Services and Innovation Research Enginering and Development , would have been used by Odebrecht's structured operations department to pay bribes.

According to the Swiss authorities revealed to their counterparts in Panama, transactions of the Flerigan International company were reflected in banks in the British Virgin Islands and Antigua and Barbuda, hence the assistance requested from the authorities of those countries.

This investigation is separate from the process that is being followed in the Twelfth Criminal Court and in which 86 people have been charged for the alleged commission of the crime of money laundering. This last case is in the final phase of investigation, since the investigation period expires the second week of October.



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