The Republic of Panama, which rarely arrests, let alone convicts, individuals, or banks, of money laundering offenses, has now sentenced a Colombian kingpin to nine years imprisonment, on money laundering and drug trafficking charges. Not only is it an extremely light sentence, given the amount of money and drugs the defendant was involved with, he's going to be released now, for he has already served ten years, awaiting the outcome of his case, in Panama's notoriously dysfunctional court system.
How can someone be held, in custody for ten years, before his sentence is handed down ? Worse, Pablo Rayo Montaño, who was a drug kingpin that moved 70 tons of cocaine out of Colombia, gets preferred treatment from the Court. He has been compared to the late Pablo Escobar, yet his relatively short sentence, which should have been more like 30 years to life, given his history, will allow him to now return to Colombia, most likely to renew his trafficking and money laundering activities. Kingpins deserve to be imprisoned until they are too old to further offend, in my humble opinion, yet Panama's judiciary, notoriously corrupt, gives him a pass.
It is obvious that the Government of Panama, under serious pressure, in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal, wanted to show that it is tough on crime, but this sentence is little more than a cruel joke. When Panama's money laundering bankers, and large crew of Venezuelan money launderers operating in Panama City, are arrested and imprisoned, we will begin to pay attention, but meanwhile, Panama shall remain what it is, a haven for money launderers, and their clients.