Ex-president named in casino scandal
PANAMA. The Attorney General, Ana Matilde Gomez has ordered an investigation into the allegations made by the daily La Prensa that the ...
PANAMA. The Attorney General, Ana Matilde Gomez has ordered an investigation into the allegations made by the daily La Prensa that the former President of the Republic, Ernesto Pérez Balladares favored certain gambling companies at the time when he privatized the casinos in Panama.
Sources from the Public Ministry said that it is too early to say if the allegation are true or false, but there is sufficient information in the two articles published by La Prensa to open a file.
According to the newspaper Pérez Balladares, gave three licenses to the companies Lucky Games S.A, Comput Bingo S.A. and Competiones Deportivas S.A., without going through a bidding procedure or paying a cent to the State.
La Prensa said that the three companies have links with the former president.
The article written by Santiago Fascetto said that the alleged owner of Lucky Games, Carlos Gonzalez Carrasquilla sent money frequently to a limited company which has ties with Balladares. A son in law of Balladares is on the board of the directors of that company that operates nine gambling rooms.
The daily said that Competiciones Deportivas and Comput-Bingo includes shareholders Mario Perez Balladares, brother of the ex-president. The enterprises operate Bingo 90, located in Obarrio.
The newspaper said that the Gaming Board secretary, Giselle Brea has ordered Monday an audit in the three companies to find out the names of their shareholders.
On Tuesday, units of the Gaming Board went to headquarters of CIRSA Panama, the biggest operator of slot machines in the country to seize documents that identify it shareholders, but the employees refuse to give the information alleging that the information was at the bank.
A spokesman for President Ricardo Martinelli said that the head of state has not yet ordered, as reported, the cancellation of the concessions to operate the slot machines and the matter was on the hands of the Public Ministry.
Ernesto Perez Balladares was president from 1994 to 1999 and he privatized the telephone and electricity companies, the casinos and the Balboa and Cristobal ports.
All the concessions are surrounded by rumors of corruption and allegations that bribes were paid by the companies that won the concessions and were not involved in a bidding process.