SUSPECTED money launderer Nicolas Corcione , accused of links to a corrupted Supreme Court Judge still dodging an appearance before Panama’s Organized Crime Prosecutor.
A former member of the Ricardo Martinelli inner circle, Corcione seems to the layman to be thumbing his nose at the prosecutor as he squirms his way out of a confrontation that could send him to trial and, if convicted, to a longer stretch behind bars than ex-judge Alejandro Moncada Luna who has served six months of a five year sentence.
His investigation is stymied by the interpretation of “director”, which in Panama usually means the man in control, or in the sense that a director is a board member
But the Chief Organized Crime Prosecutor Nahaniel Murgas is not giving up as Corcione continues to try to hide behind his seat on the board of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), interpreting it as “director” .
He disappeared from Panama for a couple of months and did not appear for ACP board meetings, leading to calls for President Juan Carlos Varela to remove him from the board. But Varela dithered, and suddenly Corcione re-appeared, to join fellow members who days before were calling for his removal. Oh what a tangled web.
Murgas has appealed , the decision of the 16th Criminal Court requiring the Supreme Court to investigate Panama Canal Authority (ACP) board member Nicolás Corcione.
Murgas is asking that the case be tried under the accusatory penal system.
He stated in his letter of appeal that the court erred in changing the jurisdiction of the case, noting that board members of the ACP do not enjoy protections offered to officials such as deputies of the National Assembly or the Central American Parliament.
Corcione is being investigated for money laundering. The charges arose from the investigation that was carried out into the activities of Moncada Luna.
Roberto Moreno, Corcione’s lawyer, argued in a motion filed with the court that Corcione’s position on the ACP board requires him to be tried by the Supreme Court. That motion was upheld by a judge, a decision that Murgas is now appealing.
In the notice of appeal, Murgas said that Corcione is only a member of the Board of Directors, and not the actual director (manager) of the ACP, so he shouldn’t have the protections reserved for those positions.
The prosecutor explained that only directors of autonomous state entities such as the Panama Canal have special protections.
To support his appeal, Murgas cited a number of other instances where board members of agencies were investigated and prosecuted by the Public Ministry.
These included six directors of Social Security who were investigated in 2011 in connection with the dietilene glycol poisoning case.