Panama in the melting pot
PANAMA. Panama’s social environment is undergoing a massive sea change with accusations of a political witch hunt coming from the forme...
PANAMA. Panama’s social environment is undergoing a massive sea change with accusations of a political witch hunt coming from the former ruling party, charges of lack of action against malefactors laid at the doorstep of the Attorney General, a former minister placed in detention, and allegations rising daily of corruption and cronyism. Even a former president has faced investigation over Casino deals.
The newly-elected president, Ricardo Martinelli, has led the way, highlighting everything from illegal construction activities to sex parlours operating as beauty spas, at the same time seeking to keep election promises to abolish the tradition of entering government with empty pockets, and leaving rich.
“ This was a machine for stealing and shameless schemes” the President said during a TV interview recently.
Last week, former Education Minister, Belgis Castro, was charged and detained for mismanaging Ministry funds over a fiber glass scandal.
The search has also revealed that legislators of the 2004-2009 period evaded payments of $2 million in taxes on new cars. The Customs Authority has revealed that the legislators were importing luxury cars at will, ignoring dispositions that limit this privilege.
Lately, the tension between the Public Ministry and the Executive has been growing. Last week the anti-corruption Czar, Ricardo Nuñez Fabrega, and Attorney General, Ana Matilde Gomez, went to war with Gomez saying that the super-powers granted to Martinelli’s appointed Czar were close to violating the constitution.
Fabrega retaliated saying it was suspicious that Gomez’ tenure has produced zero results since her appointment.
Now Gomez has opened an investigation against the Social Security director, Guillermo Saez-Llorens.
Saez-Llorens is being accused of lying to the Social Security board by saying under oath that he did not own or represent companies that provide goods and services to the CSS.
On July 14 2008, the Cabinet council authorized a direct contract to GBM Panama for services to the CSS costing $3.9 million.
The Attorney General’s Office produced a document from the Public Registry that establishes Saez-Llorens as General Manager of GBM Panama.
The state website that registers all government transactions, Panama Compra, shows at least two deals in which GBM provided services to the CSS.