Alejandro Moncada Luna, the former Chief of the Panama Supreme Court of Justice, who has been under criminal investigation for corruption, has entered a plea of guilty, and will receive a five year sentence. Moncada Luna, whose controversial purchase of two luxury properties, involving large amounts of undeclared cash, entered a guilty plea today to two of the four criminal charges pending against him, Unjust Enrichment, and Falsification of Documents. The other two counts are said to be dismissed, as part of the agreement.
In addition to the prison sentence, the two luxury residences will be forfeited, and he will lose his license to practice law in Panama. The published reports of the plea do not cover bank accounts seized by law enforcement agencies of the Government of Panama, and the disposition of those accounts is unknown.
Chief Justice Moncada Luna is accused of taking bribes to fix Supreme Court cases; some cases were improperly delayed for many years, without any legal justification; others had decisions entered that were contrary to existing law, which were bought by litigants; others were deliberately not heard, notwithstanding that they had sufficient legal merit. He is also believed to have been paid to dismiss the money laundering charges filed against the pyramid schemer, David Murcia Guzmán, and to have him summarily deported to Colombia.
Whether the former judge will actually serve time in prison is not known, because Panama allows early release to house arrest, especially for medical reasons, and Moncada Luna's attorney has stated that his client suffers from health problems, and emotional issues.
Systemic corruption, at Panama's court of last resort, is one of the principal reasons that Country Risk for the Republic of Panama is elevated; its is hoped that the appointment of jurists who will not sell their votes on the Court will change the judicial system for the better, and significantly lower Country Risk.
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