MEDIAWATCH: Former ambassador remains on Odebrecht  interrogation hot seat

Dr Jaime Lasso

 
979Views 0Comments 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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