Things are heating up in Panama, and it's not the weather. Outgoing President Ricardo Martinelli says he's staying in the country, but all indications are that he will be formally charged with corruption by Italian prosecutors. His departing ministers, who have had their US visas cancelled, are all exposed to insider trading charges, in the unfolding Financial Pacific scandal, especially since new and damaging evidence has emerged of late. Will they be charged ?
Martinelli, who has charged that certain female members of his political opposition have threatened him with death, has obtained the passage of legislation that provides for permanent security, for him and his family, after he leaves office. His efforts to secure lucrative government contracts, for a company associated with him, have reportedly failed, but he continues to seek illegal economic advantages, even as his term is expiring, and his popularity has sunk to a new low.
As to who will be the first to be charged, my humble opinion is that it will be his business associate, the American expat, Gary James Lundgren, who has been under investigation by US law enforcement and regulatory agencies, for some time. Now that new damaging information, about how he allegedly provided assistance to senior Panamanian officials, including Martinelli, has surfaced, in my humble opinion, he will be the first to fall.
Neither of Lundgren's Panama City securities firms, Global Finance & Investments, SA, and Global Valores Inversiones, SA, are licensed to sell securities, according to the records of the National Commission of Securities. He appears to have been the principal actor in the Financial Pacific insider trading scandal, and since the actual records of international wire transfers of illicit profits have now been made public, the hammer is sure to fall upon him, whether it be the US Securities & Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, which is also reportedly investigating him, or Panamanian authorities. Who charges him first is anyone's guess.
Also, we should not forget that he allegedly laundered cash received from the convicted Colombian Ponzi schemer, David Eduardo Helmut Murcia Guzmán, and he is being sued, in civil court in Panama, for stealing bearer shares of corporations owned by his clients, and engaging in conversion of of their real estate holdings.
We shall continue to keep you updated on the status of financial crime in the Republic of Panama; stay tuned.