|Rafael Guardia Jaén|
The former director of PAN, Panama's National Social Assistance Program, Rafael Guardia Jaén, has been arrested, and charged with illicit enrichment and corruption, by the First Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office. The local Panama press has crucified him, after the authorities seized $9m in bank accounts that he controlled, and a residence valued at more than $1m, all acquired on a monthly salary of $7000.
Guardia, who was taken into custody by the Directorate of Judicial Investigation (DIJ), was Director of PAN between 2012 and 2014, appointed to that position by then President Ricardo Martinelli. Panamanian law enforcement has reportedly also found five additional estates, farms and ranches owned or controlled by Guardia.
There are reports that the Government of Panama has a protected witness, whose identity has not been disclosed, who alerted the authorities to the massive program of organized bribery in operation at PAN, whereby all major builders and developers were required to donate large sums to PAN, in order to be properly licensed to proceed with their real estate projects. It is claimed at $600m-$700m was illegally obtained in this manner, and all that money is missing from PAN accounts. Former President Martinelli is said to be closely linked to the illicit PAN bribery program. Whether he will also be charged remains a question, but he is alleged to have been the recipient of a large portion of the bribe money.