Kenneth Rijock

Kenneth Rijock

Friday, February 12, 2016


Salomón Shamah, the former Panamanian Minister of Tourism, under the former government of Ricardo Martinelli, is reportedly directing the operation who goal is the resignation of the Varela administration, or failing that, initiating a coup d'etat in Panama. While Shamah has avoid entering Panama of late, his wife is said to be serving as his emissary to factions within the country, seeking support among the power elite. He is one of the leaders of the movement to unseat Varela, and replace him with Martinelli.

The people of the Republic of Panama, sick of official corruption, and seeing that the much-anticipated reform movement of Varela has failed to make any significant progress, since taking office, are being bombarded with calls for his resignation. This movement is reportedly led by Panama's powerful Syrian Organized Crime Syndicate (whose less politically correct description is the Sephardic Group), who wish to dismantle the current leadership, under the guise of replacing a failed administration. In truth and in fact,  the plotters wish to enthrone a Martinelli-led coalition, which will unfortunately, place Panama back into a system featuring massive, systemic corruption.  

Shamah, a Colombian national who holds Panamanian citizenship, whose prior involvement in drug smuggling and arms trafficking, let alone ties to David Murcia/DMG, caused his US visa to be revoked, is rumored to have been engaged in money laundering of narcotics profits, of close ties to Ricardo Martinelli, and of engaging in official corruption while in office. He is known to be commanding the extralegal efforts to remove President Varela.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


The Supreme Court of Justice approved a fine, of $500,000 and two of $300,000, levied by Panama's securities regulator against three executive of broker/dealer Financial Pacific, for auditing failures. $12m was diverted from the FP accounts, to Politically Exposed Persons, only to be mysteriously replaced, when questions arose about the transaction. A former vice president of Panama allegedly received $7m of the money.

Fines were levied against former FP executives West Valdés  Iván Clare and Oscar Rodríguez. Former President Ricardo Martinelli, and most of the ministers in his Cabinet allegedly made millions in illegal profits, through insider trading of securities of Petaquilla Gold Mine stock. The case was widely covered, when a whistle blower's civil and human rights were violated, when she was kept incommunicado in a Panamanian prison, and denied access to her attorneys and media. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


When a client retains an attorney, anywhere in the world, he explicitly trusts that lawyer to: (1) know the laws of his country, whether they be statutory or case law,  (2) to be able to navigate through the various court systems, by understanding their rules of procedure, and (3) to be a zealous advocate for his or her client. Unfortunately, in the Republic of Panama this is not always the case. Do you know why ?

Panama's legal system suffers from several major problems, the most pressing one being that many members of the judiciary rules in favor of the party paying the largest bribe, and this includes the members of the Supreme Court of Justice, including its president, who is the functional equivalent of the chief justice, who was just reelected to that post, notwithstanding the dozen criminal charges pending against him.

Here are the specific reasons why you cannot trust some Panama City lawyers to represent you in court, or in office practice:

(1) A number of wealthy Panamanians actually purchased their law degree for cold cash; they never attended one hour of instruction in law school, where one learns issue perception, the process by which attorneys identify issues, through a study of decisions designed to teach them how to extract them.

(2) Panama has no required bar examination; it has the diploma privilege, meaning that all graduates of Panama's law schools are automatically admitted to the practice of law. The are not tested on their knowledge of the major subjects, procedure, ethics, or any other subject lawyers must master, and be tested upon, in Western democracies.

So, follow me here: a son of an affluent ( whether legitimately wealthy, or affluent through criminal activity) Panamanian buys his law school diploma, get admitted to the bar, by virtue of his degree, and puts up his shingle in Panama City. This is a nightmare waiting to happen.

Some of these non-lawyer lawyers hire competent, trained and educated, lawyers to work in their offices, but they often jump in on actual cases, with disastrous results, When a layman masquerades as a lawyer, the client is denied the services of a legal mind, working on his behalf. I do not have to tell you what the usual outcome is. Of course, if the fake lawyer bribes the judge, as often occurs, the playing field is often leveled. Yes, it is that kind of justice system; you are best served by staying out of it.

Unless your lawyer is from a top Panama city law firm, where the attorneys often hold advanced law degrees (LL.M. or rarely S.J.D./J.S.D.) from North American or European law schools,  you have no guarantee that the lawyer you select to help you is only a poser, not the real mccoy.

A final note: the above-mention head of the Supreme Court of Justice of Panama, is himself on lawyer; yes, José Ayú Prado, himself, is not a lawyer. Watch yourself in Panama, please, lest you get burned.


José Ayú Prado, the head of the Supreme Court of Justice in the Republic of Panama, has inexplicably been named the Goodwill Ambassador of Panama, to the Organization of American States. This judge has been charged in no less than thirteen cases, and faces removal, prison time for accepting bribes and other unlawful compensation, and probably eventual money laundering, for seeking to hide his ill-gotten gain in real estate purchases.

Ayú Prado personifies all that is evil in the totally corrupt Panamanian justice system. If he didn't have incriminating information on the sitting Panamanian president, Juan Carlos Varela, he would be in a prison cell. Unfortunately, the universal corruption that pervades Panama prevents true reform, because the reformers are themselves dirty.

Panama is unable to clean itself up; no wonder its citizens have begged the United Nations to step in. it will remain blacklisted for foreign investors, North American retirees and pensioners, and any businessman who wants to operate in a country where the rule of law is respected.  

Monday, February 8, 2016


Two Panamanian immigration lawyers, Katherine Ulloa Castillo, and Mariaelena Jurado Dominguez, have expressed a well-founded fear that they will soon be charged with criminal Libel and Slander in the Republic of Panama, for their failure to submit any competent evidence in another criminal case, in which they claimed that they were slandered, due to false information submitted to media by the defendant,who will now probably be the complaining party against them in a new criminal case.

Ms. Ulloa and Ms. Jurado brought a criminal case against Ismael Gerli, alleging that he has libeled them, by making statements that he knew were untrue to media, resulting in the posting of Internet articles accusing them of unprofessional, unethical, and illegal acts and deeds, in their joint representation of a foreign national who was fighting extradition in a Panamanian court.

Though the prosecutor of the criminal case demanded that the attorneys, who were the complaining parties, introduce sufficient evidence to prove that there was a factual basis for the charges, the lawyers have failed to comply. The case will most likely be dismissed shortly; when that occurs, the defendant, Gerli will most likely immediately bring his own criminal charges, for slander, and for defamation of character, as the case against Gerli was reported in all the major Panama papers, as well as overseas, meaning that it will damage his professional reputation. The result could be a very large judgment for damages against the two lawyers.

Additionally, there are a reported five civil cases pending in Panama, against Gerli, where Ulloa and Jurado are attorneys of record, and they may be asked to resign, due to conflict of interest ethics rules. Last week, which was Carnival in Panama, there was no action taken in the existing case, but with the reopening of court business this week, action against the two attorneys is expected.


Reliable sources in the Bahamas reported yesterday that a Government agency there has frozen corporate bank accounts controlled by Cayman Gang of Four securities trader, Ryan Bateman. The companies named are Bahamas Exploration Limited, and Atlantic Petroleum Limited. Bateman's criminal past has recently been the topic of heated discussion in Nassau, in the Assembly; Opposition leaders have repeatedly questioned the advisability of the government working with an individual accused of being a known fugitive and fraudster,  who made a large payment for oil exploration rights, and received a license, under what are alleged to be suspicious circumstances, involving possible official corruption.

The stolen money, which was tracked by investigators, was transferred from the Cayman Islands corporation, Bateman & Company Limited, to the Bahamas. The amount frozen is not known; Cayman sources assert that more than $450m was taken, from the accounts of retired North American investors, Accused of the massive fraud are the Cayman Gang of Four, who are Sharon Lexa Lamb, Ryan Bateman, Derek Buntain, and Fernando Moto Mendes, all of who are known to have fled Grand Cayman.
Ryan Bateman
The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, more commonly known as CIMA, has taken no action to investigate this scandal, believed to be one of the largest in the Cayman Islands in recent years. Some critics have accused it of gross negligence, and official malfeasance; others have speculated that the true reason for the agency's inaction is rooted in corruption.

Bateman, who claims a fifteen-year background in oil exploration, is a Cayman-based Canadian securities trader with a history of fraud in his native Alberta. He is believed to be in hiding in the Republic of Panama, where he and his brother own and operate an unlicensed wealth management company. He claims to have foreclosed on certain corporate exploration rights, which position is hotly contested by American investors, who assert his actions have no legal basis.

Bahamas Exploration Limited, which is incorporated in the Isle of Man, where Sharon Lexa Lamb comes from, was formerly known as Falkland Gold & Minerals, Limited, and appears to have had no successes, in the Falkland Islands, and Cuba, notwithstanding receiving a larger amount of investment capital. There are also reports that audits were not conducted or filed by the company.

Sharon Lamb
Bateman, and Lamb, appear to be in the center of a scheme to divert stolen investor money into a massive Caribbean oil exploration and drilling operation, including a joint venture with the Republic of Cuba, which has long sought to find productive oil wells in the region. Both Bateman and Lamb have a close relationship with Cuban officials, alleged to be from the intelligence services, and involved in the use of financial crime to raise capital for expensive oil drilling projects.

Sunday, February 7, 2016


Given the comprehensive sanctions that the United States has in place, against the "Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea, know to most of us as North Korea, banks whose customers engage in international trade  do not want to be on the receiving end of a huge fine, for facilitating trade with that outlaw dictatorship. Any such trade, made by your clients, and which payment therefor flows through your bank, could result in major reputation damage.

Luxury goods, manufactured in the West, are in high demand in North Korea, among the elite, whose conspicuous consumption includes designer goods from Paris & Rome, German high-end automobiles, and gourmet food, while the vast majority of the rural population periodically starves to death.

The premium consumer goods flow first to China, where they are transshipped to North Korea. Banks who customers include luxury goods manufacturers or distributors, whose client base includes Chinese companies, are well advised to:

(1) Require your clients to obtain, in advance, a End User certificate from their Chinese clients, certifying that the ultimate customers for your clients' goods are located within the Chinese Peoples' Republic, and Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong, and Macau.

(2) Obtain a written statement from your clients, before you accept payments from Chinese sources, that they have an effective compliance program, which includes sanctions lists, and advance due diligence on all customers, before they sell to them.

The declining economy in China, in 2016, may force some wholesalers of Luxury goods to ship them into North Korea, in greater numbers, if they do not find buyers in China. This will further increase your risk that the customer's goods end up in North Korea.

If you have done all that is possible, to avoid the inadvertent diversion of your cutomers' goods to a sanctioned jurisdiction, you have minimized your risk, as well as the potential OFAC fallout, should an unforeseen transfer of the goods to North Korea, occur.