18 de Ago de 2022

Nacional

Ex-vicepresident under investigation

PANAMA. . A former vicepresident of Panama who was also one of the founding members of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) has bee...

PANAMA.

A former vicepresident of Panama who was also one of the founding members of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) has been accused of mis-using $1,134,000 of state funds that were intended to provide urgently needed social aid to poor people.

An audit ordered by the Social Investment Fund (FIS) director, Giacomo Tamburelli, into the Fundacion Tomas Gabriel Duque, revealed that on more than one occasion between 1998 and 2009 government donations intended to benefit the poor were used for private purposes.

Tomas Gabriel Duque helped to found the PRD and was a vice minister during the administration of ex president Ernesto Perez Balladares (1994-1999). He was also a legislator on more than one occasion but lost his seat in the last general election in May this year.

The Foundation that has his name is run out of the offices of his family printing business, Technical Printing Specialists, and does not have a separate office or telephone number.

Almost $200,000 of the FIS funds that the Duque Foundation handled were paid to a company called SERVI PLANET which is black-listed by the FIS since it exists on paper only, and has no formal infrastructure or legal entity.

SERVI PLANET was supposed to provide food bags to the needy but the food bags were instead used during the election campaign.

No bills exist from any provider to the Foundation. Nor are there any signatures or cedula numbers of people who have benefited from the Foundations’ food donations.

Other FIS funds were mis-used to pay the salaries of workers in the Tomas Gabriel Duque Recreational Centre, a community centre with a swimming pool that is used for children’s activities.

The audit also revealed that the Foundation made a request to the FIS for a non-refundable subsidy to pay the salaries of workers in the Chepo Feeding Centre. A $20,000 cheque was issued by the FIS on 27 January this year to meet this need but the Foundation only has two attendants working in the feeding centre.

The Foundation currently owes nearly $65,000 in unpaid social donations. The last payment received from the FIS was on 21 May this year for $20,000. Mr Duque was not available to comment.