Some of our readers have expressed dismay at the unethical, and often, illegal, methods that criminal defense attorneys in the Republic of Panama engage in, to delay and deny justice to foreign nationals who are victims of white-collar crime, at the hands of Panamanian fraudsters. Believe me, they are true, and there are even worse things that occur daily, in Panama's courts. It is high time to let them see the light of day.
These are the tricks that result in dismissal of criminal charges, or the functional equivalent of an acquittal at trial:
(1) At what Panamanian lawyers describe as a preliminary hearing, defense counsel, through illicit collusion with the judge and the prosecutor, has the court bar the victims from testifying. The results are obvious: dismissal. The cost to the defendant: $.
(2) At either the preliminary hearing or the trial, the court excludes all the victims' critical and essential evidence, without cause or any legal grounds to do so. Again, dismissal or acquittal occurs.
(3) The defense, through payment of even more bribes, secures the repeated and indefinite postponement of the trial date, effectively placing the case in legal limbo; it will go nowhere.
These dirty tricks prevent foreign investors, and expats living in Panama, from obtaining criminal convictions of Panamanian nationals. It is a fatal flaw in the court system, and the new reform administration is doing absolutely nothing to abolish it.
How do I know about these methods ? By speaking with some of the victims of Gary James Lundgren's frauds. His attorney, Alcides Bartolo Peña, has been committing these illegal acts for years, and by doing so, he has managed to keep his client out of prison, though he allegedly stole millions from foreign nationals, some of who have brought criminal actions, which went nowhere, due to Sr. Peña's unethical and corrupt conduct.
Unfortunately, Peña is but one of many corrupt lawyers in Panama City. So long as his ilk are allowed to game the court system, Panama's courts will provide no justice for victims.
In our next Panama article, we shall detail the relationship between Gary James Lundgren, and the convicted Colombian Pyramid/Ponzi schemer, David Eduardo Helmut Murcia Guzmán.
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