PLEADS NOT GUILTY IN ARMS SHIPMENT. OAS has complained about Panama
inadequate investigations of an arms scandal. Namely, weapons belonging to
the Nicaraguan police were sold to the Panamanian police. However, the
weapons were ultimately transferred to the Colombian AUC paramilitary,
allegedly with the help of Colombian police and customs authorities. Panama's
Ministry of Foreign Relations responded to the OAS complaint and claimed that
the signatures by which the Panamanian police allegedly bought the weapons
from the Nicaragua
were false. According to Panamanian prosecutors, investigations need to go
on. (The Panama News, August 12, 2002,
summary by Pavlidis George).
Money launderer convicted Panama has convicted Yardena Hebroni, who is a jewellery importer,
following the biggest money laundering investigation in the country’s
history. Rosendo Miranda, chief drug prosecutor, said the conviction showed
the offshore haven’s commitment to cracking down on hot money. The court
convicted Ms Hebroni of laundering $10 million US in proceeds from drug
trafficking through her company based in the Colon
free zone, Panama’s
duty free import and re-export enclave. The money was brought from the Unites
States wrapped in newspaper and deposited in nine local banks, some of which
reported suspicious transactions and triggered an investigation. (Financial
Times, April 5, 2002,
summary by Sherldine Tomlinson).
President calls for
stronger economy, fight against corruption Panama’s
president Mireya Moscoso said that her government would move quickly to
reinvigorate the sluggish economy and fight corruption. In her state of the
nation address to congress, Moscoso said it was necessary to thoroughly
investigate all allegations of bribes or corruption among lawmakers. The
start of the legislative session begins amid allegations that lawmakers have
accepted bribes in exchange for approving laws. The country has 16 percent
unemployment and 40 percent of its 2.7 million people live in poverty.
Congress has been mired in controversy since the beginning of the year, when
lawmakers from the opposition Democratic Revolution Party accused their
colleagues of receiving bribes in return for approving a multi-million
industrial centre and two judges chosen by Moscoso. The Panama’s
attorney general has asked congress to lift lawmakers immunity. There are
many members of congress that include the majority of Democratic Revolution
and congressional president Ruben Arosemana, have voluntarily waived their
immunity. Arosemana urged those remaining to do the same, so that congress
can recover its "credibility."
She also said that her government was "looking for opportunities
for the country’s future," and mentioned the upcoming negotiations for a
possible free trade agreement between Central America
and the United States. (Yahoo News (Associated Press), March
1, 2002, summary by Sherldine Tomlinson).
Financial Action Task Force (FATF), international body
against money laundering has removed this country from its blacklist.(Wall
St. J. June 22, 2001, p. A3).
SUPREME COURT SEEKS TO EXTRADITE EX-PRESIDENT TO FACE
EMBEZZLEMENT CHARGES Abdala
Bucaram, former President of Ecuador, will be required to face an
embezzlement inquiry when extradited from Panama,
who granted him political asylum in 1997.
The Congress of Ecuador removed him from office after a term of six
months for ‘mental incapacity’ for approving a contract to a Colombian
company without competitive bidding.
The $40 million contract was for 1.4 million student backpacks in a
subsidized school materials program, but 900,000 were never delivered. His brief term in office earned him the
nickname ‘El Loco’ or ‘The Crazy One’.
(South America Daily (AP), Apr
11, 2001, summary by Marg Reynolds).
ANOTHER HATED LATIN AMERICAN POLITICO IN EXILE. Vladimiro
Montesinos, the hated former spy chief of Peru,
arrived Sunday in Panama
on a jet and applied for asylum. Now, the President of Panama, Mireya
Moscoso, must make her final decision on whether to accept the former spy
chief. The Organization of American States lobbied for the granting of
asylum, in order to help pave the way for a graceful exit by Peruvian
President Alberto Fujimori. Montesinos truly seems to be too influential and
dangerous to live in Peru:
his supporters reportedly threatened a coup in Peru
if he wasn't given asylum. However, Panamanians are tiring of their country
being a kind of Club Med for aging strongmen. "Once again, Panama
is being asked to be the dumping ground for this type of garbage," said
the former president of Panama Guillermo Endara. Among the disgraced Latin
American leaders that were provided asylum in Panama
in recent years we can find the former President of Ecuador, Abdala Bucaram,
the former Haitian dictator General Raul Cedras and the former Guatemalan
president Jorge Serrano Elias. (Source: CNN News (AP), September
24, 2000, summary by Pavlidis George).
CITY – Authorities informed today that the company
Speed Joyeros dedicated to the gold commerce has been involved in laundering
narco-money involving false billing, checks to third persons, electronic
transference, among other activities. The owner has been detained in the United
States (AP, September 20, summary by Fabian
OECD has declared
that this country helps money laundering (June
The Index of Economic Freedom
(by Driscoll-Holmes-Kirkpatrick) for 2001 places Panama in the “Mostly Free”
category with a rank of 45 (Ranks range from 1 for Hong Kong to 155 for North
Korea, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 1, 2000). H. D. Vinod’s trimmed correlation
analysis indicates that countries free from economic regulation are less
corrupt. After allowing for some exceptions by 20% trimming, the correlation
is near 0.9.