Temas Especiales

30 de Oct de 2020

Nacional

Customs officials now under spotlight

PANAMA. Corruption is rife amongst customs officials, according to Gloria Moreno de Lopez, director of the Customs Office.

PANAMA. Corruption is rife amongst customs officials, according to Gloria Moreno de Lopez, director of the Customs Office.

In an interview on Telemetro she said that she has difficulty finding personnel to work in Tocumen airport who don’t steal or accept bribes, and that she has video film of staff committing these offences.

She said she once arrived in the airport “to find only one customs official awake.. everyone else was sleeping.”

She said that even though it is known that large quantities of contraband pass over the Costa-Rican-Panama border and come through Tocumen airport, it is not possible to guarantee security or oversee staff to make sure that illegal acts are not committed by customs officials.

She said she is now actively looking for 70 honest people to replace those officials who have been video-filmed carrying out illegal acts.

“If I fire them I won’t have any personnel and that would be worse,” she said.

On Thursday a customs officer was arrested in a joint undercover operation by the anti corruption department and the national police.

She was allegedly deleting waybills of merchandise from the official customs list of imports and exports.

Investigations showed she had bribed her co-workers with $2,000 to get access to the waybills after being transferred from a department where the information was kept.

She now faces investigation by the anti-corruption squad and, if found guilty, could be fined up to $200 and face between 2-4 years in jail.