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    Categories: Panama

Comptroller takes heat for lawmakers scam audit

Federico Humbert

PANAMA’S Comptroller General Federico Humbert is under fire over a limited audit of $15 million handed out by deputies which ended in secret accounts without revealing the final destination.
Facing concerns from many quarters Humbert has gone to ground and has not responded to questions, reports La Prensa
The criticisms are based on the almost nonexistent revelations that a draft audit reveals about the final use given to the large donations made by deputies some of which took a circular route and ended up in secret accounts of the donor’s office.
It is necessary to , determine whether the donated money reached
final recipients and the Comptroller should not just concentrate on
the failures of the administrative processes used to grant them” says La Prensa.
“Although the audit is very vague, it reveals how much money the deputies managed, with secret codes that these used to hide their identities when making donations, which largely did not reach their beneficiaries.”
The Comptroller General (CGR) has chosen to remain silent says La Prensa, “He has not explained why he ordered to review only the administrative processes of donations and contracts for professional services, nor the reason why he has not audited the final use of about $15 million that deputies distributed to individuals in supposed donations.
There has been no response to calls, emails and messages – to the comptroller, and his Public Relations Office.
On Monday, Feb. 5, La Prensa published the draft of an audit carried out by the CGR, including a table listing donations managed by deputies with their secret codes and the names and certificates of beneficiaries, and the date and time the checks were changed and in which banks.
Multiple voices repudiated the type of audit ordered by Humbert, which has taken about 10 months.
The report would be a fundamental piece for the Public Ministry to investigate deputies who offered assistance and were left with 95% of the donation check or temporary work contracts, says La Prensa.
Deputy Ana Matilde Gómez, a former Attorney General, said the audit “fell short and “, as what you want to know is the final destination of public funds.
“With a proper audit, the deputy who committed embezzlement could be prosecuted.
“What really interests us is discovering which of those donations were false, how many
used figureheads, a person, screen company or a fictitious need so that the money returned to the deputy’s own hands, “said Gómez.
The Panamanian chapter of Transparency International (TI said:
“Without the work of the control and oversight bodies, as is the CGR, it is impossible to win the battle against impunity and corruption. … the comptroller asked us for patience
but the time for patience has already passed, “said Lina Vega, president of the agency.
In December, TI sent a letter to the comptroller regarding the audits. ” Regrettably, he neither responded nor sent the audits to the Public Ministry “, Vega said.
“It is unjustifiable that almost a year after announcing the start of audits in the Assembly, the CGR has not had the commitment to carry out the work that the country demands.”
Freddy Pitti, from Together We Decide said the comptroller’s office “has mocked the people” by breaking its oversight role. “It seems that it is dedicated to delaying, covering up corrupt deputies.
Constitutional lawyer Miguel Antonio Bernal said “It cannot even be called an audit. It is a practice that the comptroller has been implementing to evade the functions of his position.
The Independent Movement (Movin) said the Comptroller has the obligation to deliver the complete audit and reveal deputies who have taken advantage of contracts and donations for purposes other than those originally intended, said its president, Annette Planells.
The Supreme Court granted La Prensa a habeas data on the issue, but the Assembly has ignored the ruling. On another occasion, in a ruling last October, the CSJ granted a habeas data on information of the personnel hired by the deputies.

David Young :