Prosecutors swoop on $39.9 million media buy money laundering

882Views 6Comments Posted 26/06/2017

CRIMINAL CHARGES have been laid against 17 individuals and a law firm involved in the $39.9 million acquisition of the Panama America newspaper group allegedly through money laundering.

The announcement  came from Attorney General  Kenia Porcell on Monday June 26. She highlighted  the "New Business", investigation  covering a series of transactions made for the purchase of the group Editora Panamá América S.A. (Epasa),  allegedly with funds of public origin.

Meanwhile, prosecutors are already "working" on the seizure of bank accounts that have been identified as having links to the case, and others will be charged, she said.

Porcell said that an investigation was opened in February this year to obtain information from a bank account of an offshore company.

The account  was to "receive and group money, whose origin was alleged to be illicit  and was used to acquire  a media group.”reports La Prensa

The money came from, among other sources, the tender for the expansion and improvement of the ArraijánLa Chorrera highway.

"The crime of money laundering requires an offense [...] of a previous wrongful act.”

The precedent at the moment is the case of the La ChorreraArraiján highway, "  which would mean the commission of an offense against the public administration she said.

Part of the money received from the State to expand the highway, for the purchase of the media group,

The company Transcaribe Trading, S.A. (TCT), linked to the brothers David and Daniel Ochy, was awarded the contract.  The Government advanced $ 22 million, that is presumed to be part of the funds to acquire the editorial group, said the prosecutor.

Laundering structure
Porcell explained during the press conference the process and structuring of the alleged offense.

The  money transfer was made in In 2010, using seven local and five foreign banks under US, Swiss and Chinese jurisdiction.

In total, the 18 individuals and legal entities carried out 18 transactions, of which  16 were in a period of two days.  The transactions were for various amounts, ranging from $80,000 thousand to $11.4 million,

The transfers arrived in  the account called "New Business", in the  British Virgin Islands

British. This company has a bank account in the island of Montserrat, in the Caribbean.

"All the money comes to this offshore bank account, in Montserrat, and from there, on December 21 and 22,  2010, two checks were drawn up for the purchase of these companies, for a total of 39.9 million, "said the Prosecutor.

All these people made the  moves to finally return the money to Panama. "These are the different phases of what constitutes the crime of money laundering.