Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Odebrecht financed election campaigns in Panama with bribes

The arguments presented so far in the preliminary hearing, which lasted until 30 September, include those of former presidents Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) and Juan Carlos Varela (2014-2019).

A day earlier, Judge Balois Marquínez read the statement of accused businessman Aaron Mizrachi, who said that in the 2009 race, one candidate, Martinelli, had told him that Odebrecht would donate money to his campaign, and that Juan Carlos Varela, who was at the time was the candidate. The vice president was aware of the contribution.

According to that statement, both Martinelli and Varela were aware of all deposits made by the Brazilian construction company to their company, Caribbean Holding Services Ltd.

Also read was information obtained from Switzerland with requested judicial assistance, which details that Juan Carlos Espinosa, who held the position of Panama’s representative before the World Trade Organization between 2010 and 2011, took credits of companies linked to Odebrecht. transferred to the card. Former presidential candidate, Romulo Roux.

According to prosecutors, upon receiving this information, the Electoral Court was asked to suspend the criminal electoral jurisdiction of Roux, the current leader of the Cambio Democratico, but this request was denied.

In addition, the statement of Monica Moura, wife of Brazilian political strategist Joo Santana, who announced that she had been approached by Odebrecht to manage the campaign for José Domingo Arias’ presidential campaign in the 2014 elections, was read.

At the hearing, other statements were made, such as Panamenista party member Jaime Lasso, who assured that Varela and his brother, former deputy José Luis Varela, knew that they had received money from Odebrecht for that political campaign. organization in 2009 and 2014.

According to analysts, the preliminary hearing for the largest proceedings against corruption in the isthmus takes place at the Gil Ponce Palace of Justice, and prosecutors requested an appeal of 49 people, most of them natural and one legal, for the company Ricamar. money laundering offense

The investigation by the seventh anti-corruption prosecutor for possible crimes against the public administration resulted from a complaint filed in 2015 by lawyer Alvin Weiden, in which he disclosed bribe payments to officials.

According to the evidence shown, Odebrecht paid bribes of more than $50 million in Panama.

In 2016, construction company Odebrecht admitted to the United States justice system that it had paid $788 million in bribes to officials in 12 countries in Africa and Latin America.

In 2017, Odebrecht’s directors and Panama’s Ministry of Public Affairs signed an effective cooperation agreement, and the company was fined $220 million with a payment term of 12 years.

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