Temas Especiales

23 de Nov de 2020


Corruption rife with 450 cases

PANAMA. The Nation General Comptroller, Carlos Vallarino and the Attorney General, Ana Matilde Gomez finally arrive to an understanding...

PANAMA. The Nation General Comptroller, Carlos Vallarino and the Attorney General, Ana Matilde Gomez finally arrive to an understanding about how to fight corruption within the government.

Vallarino said that currently there are 450 incidents of corruption which are going to be passed to the Corruption Prosecution Offices for investigation.

On Sunday the Attorney General questioned the support the Comptroller is giving to the Public Ministry with regards to the corruption investigations.

The problems started when Gomez in a letter asked Vallarino for information about a contract with Rodeiba S.A., which is carrying out the repairs works in the Guillermo Andreve School of Arraijan.

Teachers and parents have been at odds with the Education Minister, Salvador Rodriguez, because the contractors have not carried out the work.

The school has been completely taken apart to make repairs, but the contractor suspended the work after the Ministry of Education failed to pay for the repairs.

The Ministry of Education said that it could not pay the contractor, because the Comptroller had not ratified the contract.

Meanwhile, the Comptroller explained that he only received the contract last Wednesday and that he was not going to ratify it , as costs for the works were overinflated by 40 percent and he had and invited Minister Rodriguez to talk to him.

Vallarino told Gomez that over the last two years he has sent 450 reports about fraud against the State for over $32.4 million and nothing has been done yet.

The Comptroller said that the Public Ministry has to be more diligent and efficient in its investigations of corruption cases.

The Attorney General said that she cannot investigate cases properly, because the Comptroller has not sent all the evidence, while Vallarino answered that the one who has to investigate is Gomez.

During ameeting that took place yesterday, both parties agreed to find the adequate mechanisms to initiate investigation and fight corruption while maintaining the independence of both institutions.

Attorney General Gomez said that her duty is to fight crime and to convict those who commit a felony, but first they must be investigated.

The Comptroller denounced the Ministry of Education as a focus of corruption within the government and presented specific cases about projects in which the companies unjustifiabley inflated costs.

The meeting took place at the office of the Attorney General and both parties agreed to respect each other methods, while the Public Ministry will wait for the outstanding report of the Comptroller.

Meanwhile, the corruption prosecutors Mercedes de León and Yolanda Austin, said during a television interview at Telemetro Reporta, that they receive little cooperation from the Comptroller with regards to reports and audits that have to do with corruption investigations.

Prosecutor Austin said that since the arrival of Ana Matilde Gomez to the Attorney General’s office they have had a very good relation with the previous Comptroller, Dani Kuzniecky, but not everything is lost.

One of the cases mentioned was the one about glass fibers, in which the prosecutor asked the comptroller for a report, but it only gave a partial one, although the contamination problem affected several regions of the country.

The Martin Torrijos’ administration has had it fare share of scandals and fraud accusations involving mainly the Ministries of Education and Public Works.

The new penal code allows the investigation of civil servants involved in fraud up to five years after they leave their posts, so that corruption cases can be investigated by the Public Ministry.