Judge stymies complexcorruption probes

592Views 2Comments Posted 09/10/2017

A CRIMINAL Court judge after admitting “serious crimes have been committed”  rejected requests from prosecutors to have cases involving high profile figures from the Martinelli era declared “complex” which would give prosecutors time to wrap up their investigations.

Eighteenth criminal judge Baloisa Marquínez rejected two requests from public prosecutors in the “New Business”  case and the process of capital in the loan granted by the Caja de Ahorros (CA) for the convention center in Amador.

In two rulings of August 25, the judge used the same arguments to reject applications by Janeth Rovetto, First Prosecutor Against Organized Crime in the New Business case, and Leyda Sáenz, 7th Anti-Corruption Prosecutor, in the CA process.

In both cases, the judge acknowledged that serious crimes were being committed because "the existence of a structured group Acting  in a concerted manner for the purpose of committing serious crimes to obtain economic benefits or materials ".

The prosecution alleged in its June 30 order that the New Business case be declared “complex” because  of the need for international cooperation, as the transactions investigated were through local and foreign banks.

Judicial sources consulted explained that once the case is denied as complex, the prosecutor must complete the investigation in the time required by the law, six months, and submit their case.  If the judge had accepted the allegations, prosecutors would have two more years, including possible extension.

[caption id="attachment_66263" align="alignleft" width="300"] Francolini and ex-president Ricardo Martinelli[/caption]

Among those involved in the New Business investigations are Martinelli inner circle members,  Riccardo Francolini, Gabriel and Mike Btesh,  Henri and Aaron Mizrachi and Felipe Virzi. Several are the targets of other corruption probes.

Although the First prosecutor against Organized Crime, Janeth Rovetto, argued in her application in the New Business that it was a comple case involving  international cooperation, because "the money transfer maneuver was carried out through banks local and foreign courts of different jurisdictions,"  Judge Marquínez, denied the order.

Prosecutor Rovetto also argued that "because it was an operation involving a multiplicity of natural persons and legal entities that carried out a series of financial operations, the traceability of which requires the identification, due to the complexity of the same, it is necessary for the jurisdictional entity to apply the complex procedure within the present case ".

The New Business case is related to a series of transactions carried out for the purchase of the group Editora Panamá América, S.A. (Epasa) - which publishes several print-   media presumably with public funds

In the ruling of August 25, 2017, Judge Marquínez indicated that there is a serious crime but denied  the request of the prosecution, "since it has not been proven that there is a structured group acting in a concerted manner for the purpose of committing serious crimes to obtain economic or material benefits".

The Court also denied the request for the application of the “complex” procedure in the case related to the loan  granted by the Caja de Ahorros, in favor of the consortium HPC-Contratas-P & V, for the construction of the convention center  in Amador, but according to MP surveys, was used to cover the financial gap of  the Financial Pacific brokerage.