Kenneth Rijock

Kenneth Rijock

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

ARE BADLY NEEDED REFORMS IN PANAMA DEAD ON ARRIVAL ?


The systemic corruption, and rampant money laundering, that threatens to place the Republic of Panama on the FATF blacklist in 2015 was supposed to be cleaned up by the new (less than one year in office) "reform" government of the country's President, Juan Carlos Varela. Unfortunately, bankers in North American and the European Union haven't seen any meaningful arrests for money laundering since Varela took office, and only a small handful of corrupt government officials and judges have been targeted, with an even small number convicted and imprisoned. You can count them on the fingers of one hand.

Why is meaningful reform in Panama not happening ? One only needs to look at the country's sitting president to know why; as a part of the previous, obscenely corrupt Martinelli administration, he is believed to have a number of financial skeletons in his own closet, meaning that any broad investigations could uncover his role, and unravel his image with the people he has sworn to serve.

When Varela and Martinelli were competing for the presidency, back in 2008-2009, reliable sources tell us that Varela allegedly accepted a multi-million dollar bribe to stand back, and allow Martinelli to ascend to the presidency of Panama. If this is true, then Varela will fear exposure, and therefore conduct a reform program that is only window dressing, and not a below-the-waterline effort, to weed out the systemic acceptance of bribes & kickbacks by government  officials and the judiciary, and the placement of illicit funds ( bribe money and narcotics proceeds) in the country's banking system, he does not want to go to prison, as a casualty of his own reform program, after he leaves office.

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