The $1 million grab bag
PANAMA. The focus on the mayoralty candidates keeps switching, from PRD candidate Bobby Velazquez to Panameñista candidate Bosco Vallar...
PANAMA. The focus on the mayoralty candidates keeps switching, from PRD candidate Bobby Velazquez to Panameñista candidate Bosco Vallarino, and back to Bobby. After the Electoral Tribunal declared dual citizenship candidate Vallarino’s candidacy valid, a friend of David Murcia, Alex Ventura, comes out clean with how and why the Colombian businessman contributed to Bobby’s mayoralty campaign.
Alex Ventura, who had verbally agreed to buy portions of Murcia’s businesses in Panama before his arrest, has until now refused to talk about politics, burdened with the knowledge of a political secret that could potentially make a significant dent in the results of the upcoming elections.
But in a recent interview with La Estrella , he finally gave out the details of the October 28 meeting with Bobby Velazquez and his father at the Sheraton Hotel.
“I just happened to be in the room,” he said. “During those days I was running alongside David because we were about close the deal for the purchase of the DMG franchise in Panama.
“We were talking about it and started to eat when Bobby Velazquez and his father, Roberto, stepped in.”
After being introduced to the gentlemen, Ventura asked Murcia if he wanted him to leave. ‘No’, Murcia replied, according to Ventura, “I want you to hear everything.”
“Before receiving them, Murcia told me he was doing a political investment and that this meeting was being held to complete the payment of $3 million for Bobby’s campaign,” he said.
Ventura claims he never saw the money per se, but that the situation was quite clear, with everyone in the room well aware that the packed bag that Ernesto Chong briefly brought into the meeting carried cash.
“The bag just stood there. No one touched it during the meeting.”
“When it ended, David bid goodbye and said without looking at the bag, ‘this is your share.’ Bobby’s father greeted Murcia, picked the bag up, and took it with him. Bobby was behind him. They were taking a million (dollars),” he said.
During the meeting, Murcia, Ventura and the Velazquez discussed strategies for the PRD mayoralty candidate’s campaign.
“We spoke about how to win, about the polls, what to do to be better, what type of products could be used for merchandising,” said Ventura.
“Carnival was around the corner, and special t-shirts for women had already been ordered. The meeting was in October and the strong point of the campaign would be in January.”
“We had to buy at once in China, and we talked about products, prices and the delivery.”
According to Ventura, Murcia was not merely making a donation to Bobby’s campaign, but a “political investment.”
“I asked him about the difference between a donation and a political investment.
“He explained that a donation is made and that’s it, but with an investment one expects to recuperate the money, and he wanted to triple his investment.”
In a $3 million investment, Ventura said Murcia was expecting to gain a $9 million return.
“How? In DMG contracts with the Mayor’s Office, in things the Velazquez’s were offering,” he said.
Ventura said he was willing to meet face to face with Bobby, who denies having received a cent from Murcia. “It wasn't a cent, it was $3 million,” said Ventura.
“I challenge him to submit to a lie detection test or to meet me face to face.
“I am willing to do whatever is needed to prove what happened, to let it be known that I am not lying and he is,” claimed Ventura.
“I don’t have anything against them (the Velazquezs). I was only a witness and wish I didn’t have to talk. But it is only fair for them to return the money to the (DMG) clients in Panama,” he argued.
“The only victims here are the Panamanians who invested in DMG, because the DMG money is theirs.
“The Public Ministry needs to do what is needed for these people to recuperate their money.
“They have intervened in the company, and if it comes down to it, it is time to liquidate the assets and even get back the money that was invested in Mr Bobby Velazquez’s campaign.”
As for attempts to return the money, Ventura said he was approached with offers to return the money in return for Murcia’s silence, a message he passed on to the Colombian.
“David has a commitment with the DMG family, with the clients, and whoever intends to return the money should do it through the prosecutor’s office,” he claimed.
“The money should be returned to the people (DMG’s clients).”