Friday, October 7, 2016


In Panama, if you are a local lawyer who wants to win his case, pending before the country's highest judicial body, the Supreme Court of Justice, you pay a substantial bribe to the justice presiding over it. Appellees who pay have their case delayed for years, or even dismissed, notwithstanding whether or not the law favors their position; Appellants who drop thousands of dollars upon the judges find that the high court enters a decision in their favor, even if the law is firmly against them. That's why lawyers in North America know to warn their clients in advance, well before they engage in business in Panama, that they cannot rely upon the courts to settle disputes there; It's the Wild West for litigants.

Judge Alejandro Moncada Luna was formerly one of those corrupt judges. He was appointed by the former president, and now fugitive, Ricardo Martinelli. After Moncada was exposed, he was sentenced to five years' imprisonment, and he is currently serving that sentence, in one of Panama's notoriously primitive prisons. Unfortunately, those litigants, and their attorneys, who paid the illegal bribes to Moncada, will not face justice for their sins & transgressions, for in the curious plea agreement, the judge pled to only falsification of documents, and unjust enrichment; How convenient.

Therefore, the money laundering and corruption charges pending against the dozen or so individuals who paid over those bribes have all been dismissed, for what has been described as lack of evidence. Remember this story the next time a client, partner, or business associate tells you is is planning on expanding his business into the Republic of Panama. Should he be cheated, or just have a substantial debit or default owed to him, there's no trustworthy forum available to redress his grievances.

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