Setback for ex-minister in expenses fiddle probe

Alma Cortes
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FORMER Minister  of Labor and Labor Development Alma Cortes has suffered another setback in  her defense against charges of fiddling her travel expenses.

The Second Superior Court of Justice has upheld the validity of the order to investigate her for the alleged commission of the crime against the public administration. The ruling of June 22, signed by judges Eda Cecilia Gutiérrez de Jiménez and María de Lourdes Estrada Villar, confirms a decision adopted by

The ruling of June 22, signed by judges Eda Cecilia Gutiérrez de Jiménez and María de Lourdes Estrada Villar, confirms a decision adopted by The Twelfth Criminal Court, which on March 22 denied  a move by her defense to block investigation  of events in March 2011 when she received $18,900 To participate in a meeting of the International Labor Organization (ILO), in Geneva, Switzerland. But, according to an audit report, the amount sh received was for  27 days of participation, and she only attended eight.

“The -Ex-Minister Alma Cortés left Panama on March 18 and returned on March 25, 2011  a shorter

period  than that for which the sum of $18,900 was granted,” says  the ruling of the Second

Court.

The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office is investigating  in total – five people, who “charged for  days where they did not participate in the mission entrusted to them. An economic loss to the State of $49,000 was determined. Three of the defendants have already made  “The respective return” of the per diems overcharged. reports La Prensa.

The facts were denounced  by Luis Carles, who succeeded  Cortes at the ministry.

In this case, Cortes was already investigated on October 17 and 18. The defense of the ex-employee alleged that there was insufficient evidence to support inquiries.

However, the court decided that “there are elements necessary to consider a  probable link of Alma Lorena Cortes Aguilar and , the investigation has legal support.”

This criterion was backed by the Second High Court. Justice.

The Court also upheld the prosecutor’s decision to order the investigation of Ivan Gantes Castillo, former Foreign Affairs Advisor at the Ministry. Ghent, according to the file received $16,200 of travel expenses, of which he returned $3,000.

Cortes, pro tem leader of the CD party  is also under investigation for illegal enrichment of over $1 million while in office.

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