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Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas (FCC) Charged in $91M Bribe/Corruption Involving Panama Metro, the City of Health, and Other Public Infrastructure Projects

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Spanish company indicted for $91 million  bribes to Martinelli frontman

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Ricardo Martinelli

Posted 30/10/2019

Spain’s National Court has indicted Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas, SA ( FCC), for the payment of $91 million in commissions to a Ricardo Martinelli frontman in order to be awarded public works contracts in Panama.

According to the newspaper El Mundo, on Wednesday, October 30 :  “Bribes paid in Switzerland would have been used to build two subway lines and the City of Health. Among the recipients of the commissions would be a frontman of former president of Panama Ricardo Martinelli ”, whom they identify as the lawyer Mauricio Cort.

Spanish judge Ismael Moreno attributes to FCC the crimes of corruption in international transactions and money laundering. 

The news has also been replicated by Reuters and AP  news agencies  reports La Prensa

According to the order issued on Wednesday, the head of the FCC legal advisory stated in her appearance before the prosecution last July that the documents attached to the complaint “had served as formal coverage for the outflow of funds from the company towards Mauricio Cort as a Martinelli treasurer, for the payment of commissions demanded by the latter to allow FCC to operate in Panama in the field of its public works business ”.

The investigation dates back to 2017, following a complaint against a legal advisor of the multinational Odebrecht for possible money laundering, bribery and criminal organization committed between 2009 and 2015.

The companies Odebrecht and FCC have been partners in several projects in Panama. For example, they bid together for  the contracts for the construction of two of the most ambitious and emblematic projects of the last two governments: Line 1 of the Metro, which cost the Martinelli government (2009-2014 $2.9 billion) , and line two of that transport system, which meant a disbursement by  the Juan Carlos Varela administration of (2014-2019) of $2.130 billion.

Judge Moreno directs the process against the mercantile FCC Construcción SA, FCC Construcción Centroamérica SA, and Construcciones Hospitalarias SA, at the request of the anti-corruption prosecution, El Mundo reported. The three companies  have five days to designate a representative, a lawyer and attorney

Mauricio Cort has been provisionally detained since June as part of the investigation for alleged cost overruns in the study, design, construction, and financing of the Via Brasil corridor, section II, a work that was awarded to FCC for $174.5 million, and which ended up costing $216.2 million.

Cort is also prosecuted for the Odebrecht bribery case but reached collaboration and penalty agreements with the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office reports La Prensa.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/spanish-company-indicted-for-91-million-bribes-to-martinelli-frontman

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Multi million bribery scam - or "political persecution"

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A La Prensa cartoonis's take on the news that Ricardo Martinelli's front man was the distributor of FCC bribes

Posted 31/10/2019

The news spread  like wildfire. In Spain they had charged FCC for paying bribes in Panama. Respecting the presumption of innocence of all those who have had to do with the construction projects of this company in Panama, important questions remain that the current Panamanian government must answer.

 Will a fight against corruption be undertaken without barracking and without political flags? Or, will you turn your back on the awkward matter? In the coming weeks and months a lot of information will be known about how to do business in Panama, and how pharaonic public contracts were obtained that have us indebted to the top. We will show the world how another construction company could take advantage of us and, most absurdly, is that even if they condemn it, it cannot be excluded from contracting with the Panamanian State.

There, in Spain, We will see judicial judges work without calls or pay-offs, while the processes will proceed without foolish dilatory resources to interfere and be manipulated to public opinion with a powerful propaganda operation that proclaims to the four winds that it is political persecution. This is the worst nightmare of a great corrupt. LA PRENSA, Oct, 31

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/multi-million-bribery-scam-or-ampquotpolitical-persecutionampquot-1

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It's pretty sad when other nations have to handle justice for one which is so corrupt as to be incapable of dealing with the theft of the people’s funds by public officials.The actions, inactions, and verdicts of the Courts in Panama are brutally offensive.

Edited by Keith Woolford
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Incoming Metro boss will collaborate in $91 million bribery probe

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Posted 01/11/2019

The newly named director-general and president of the board of directors of Metro de Panamá, SA, Héctor Ortega says that the company “will collaborate with any information that is required nationally or internationally. In the latest  multi-million coma (bribery) investigations

“We will respect the investigations carried out by the competent authorities, “ he told La Prensa on Thursday, October 31.

He was referring to the case of the indictment in Spain of  FCC Construcción for the alleged payment of bribes for the granting of contracts for  the construction of Panama Metro and the City of Health.

According to the indictment of the National Court of Spain, three companies of the construction group - which is currently controlled by magnate Carlos Slim - paid 82 million euros ($91 million) to get public works contracts in Panama.

FCC was awarded in consortium with Brazil's Norberto Odebrecht the design and construction contracts of the first two lines of the Panama Metro for a total of $4.220 billion. The first was tendered during the administration of Ricardo Martinelli and the second in the government of Juan Carlos Varela.

The consortia were led by  Brazil’s Odebrecht, but FCC had a 45% stake.

The Brazilian company confessed in 2016 that it paid $788 million in bribes in 12 countries, including Panama, to get public works contracts.

In addition, the  Panama Public Ministry is investigating the Spanish construction company for the alleged commission of several crimes for works, such as the Vía Brasil corridor, also awarded in the Martinelli administration.

Ortega, who will replace  Roberto Roy as the maximum representative of the Panama Metro, in January 2020, told La Prensa  that the Public Procurement Law governs in Panama, defended the technical work of the evaluation commissions and announced that when he takes office It must ensure the transparency of the processes and the appointment of independent evaluation committees.

In the bill that reforms the Public Procurement Law, a new mechanism is established for the selection of the members of the evaluation commissions. According to the original proposal of the bill, the members will leave a database of professionals who will be in the General Directorate of Public Procurement.

The text, which will be discussed in the Assembly in extraordinary sessions, eliminates the tender model with a separate evaluation, used in the two Metro lines and that keeps the official price hidden in the tender.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/incoming-metro-boss-will-collaborate-in-91-million-bribery-probe

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Ex-president got $6.5 million bribe for contracts  - indictment

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Posted 02/11/2019

A bribe of at least $6. 5 million was  paid  to former president  Ricardo Martinelli by the Spanish construction company Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas (FCC) in exchange for contracts in Panama, say court documents   widely published in Spanish media  and  the front page  lead in La Prensa on  Saturday, November 2,  in spite of threats of legal action  by a  Martinelli spin merchant and lawyer

The Spanish publication  Vozpópuli attributes the information to statements given by FCC on June 6 to  Spanish the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office.

According to FCC's statement before the prosecutor's office - cited by the judge of the National Court judge Ismael Moreno -, the bribe would have been carried out through a transaction made by the Panamanian-Spanish lawyer Mauricio Cort, appointed as the frontman of Martinelli.

According to Vozpópuli,  after the bribe was paid to Marinelli, FCC won multi-million-dollar contracts in Panama - some of them from the scandal-ridden Brazilian construction company  Odebrecht -, including lines 1 and 2 of the Panama Metro and the City of Health which was to have been anointed with Martinelli’s name.

Judge Moreno charged FCC on October 29 for the payment of bribes totaling $91 million at the current exchange), in order to be awarded public works contracts in Panama.

"According to the Spanish Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office, FCC and  Odebrecht boosted steel prices in order to pay bribes to Panamanian leaders, including former President Martinelli," Vozpópuli cites in information released on October 30.

The Spanish medium adds that, when appearing before the prosecution on July 3, “the head of the legal advice of FCC provided more compromising data for the ex-president of the Central American country. Specifically, he explained that the documents that he attached to the complaint 'had served as a formal coverage for the company's outflow of funds to Mauricio Cort as a Martinelli frontman  for the payment of the bribes required by the latter to allow FCC to operate in Panama in the field of his public works ', as evidenced by Judge Moreno's October 29 order. ”

Denial and threat

This week, after the decision of the National Court of Spain to charge FCC for the alleged payment of bribes Martinelli, through his spokesman, Luis Eduardo Camacho Castro, denied all the accusations.

"Former President Martinelli is not subject to any criminal investigation in any country," Camacho said in a press release, and warned that they will act legally against those who try to link him in any illegal act.

When contacted by La Prensa, Camacho reiterated that Martinelli has nothing to do with the accusations, and warned, once again, that they will sue anyone who disseminates information that does not conform to the truth.

“Once again, false accusations are made. No FCC employee has sustained that Martinelli received only one real for contracts in Panama. ”

Processes
Judge Moreno attributes to FCC Construcción SA, FCC Construcción Centroamérica SA, and Construcciones Hospitalarias SA - subsidiaries of FCC - the crimes of corruption in international transactions and money laundering.

In Panama, the Office of the Attorney General (PGN) reported that charges have been made to 14 people for alleged money laundering crimes and filed as part of an investigation for alleged anomalies in the contract for the construction of via Brazil, section II, awarded to FCC.

The information was provided by the PGN, in a statement that states that the investigation is carried out in coordination with the Spanish anti-corruption prosecutors. The names of the 14 accused persons were not disclosed, although it is known that lawyer Mauricio Cort is provisionally detained.

An audit of Panama’s Comptroller General of the Republic concluded that in one of the contracts awarded to FCC in Panama there was a surcharge of $ 1.7 million, “ to which sum to which it is necessary to add the money from the payment of the coima (bribe) ”, according to the PGN

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/world/ex-president-got-65-million-bribe-for-contracts-indictment

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Martinelli frontman  named in $91 million Panama bribery case

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Posted 16/11/2019

Three subsidiaries of t  Spanish construction company FCC will appear before the National Court of Spain on Friday, November  22 charged with the payment of 82 million euros ($91 million at current exchange rates) in bribes to obtain contracts for the construction of Panama Metro lines and the City of  Health .

Judge Ismael Moreno accuses the subsidiaries of FCC Construcción, FCC Construcción Central America and Construcciones Hospitalarias) of corruption crimes in international transactions and money laundering.

Afonso Iglesia González will appear before the Court as a “specially appointed representative” of the company

The anti-corruption agency in Spain has several supposed indications that suggest that senior FCC executives and Odebrecht company staff designed a scheme to divert funds, which was based on inflating the price of the steel supply needed to build the Panama metro and to invoice it at double its price.

According to Judge Moreno's thesis, funds were obtained to allegedly pay bribes to employees and political leaders of Panama. Among the recipients of the bribes was the lawyer Mauricio Cort, an alleged frontman of former President  Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014).

In a statement published the day the investigations came to light, FCC explained that they were aware of an alleged act of corruption in Panama in 2010 and that since 2015 (when Carlos Slim took control of the company), the shareholders of control, advisors and managers  have collaborated with the authorities with the intent of thoroughly reviewing the events that completely violate their principles of ethics and compliance.

“Throughout the FCC Group, a total commitment to the principle of zero tolerance for corruption is established. The notification received has been produced within the framework of the investigation which, from the first day in which the notification was received,  has relied on our collaboration ”, says an FCC statement.

Local  charges
In Panama 14 people have been investigated for alleged embezzlement, corruption and money laundering.

The investigations cover about five projects, among them, road rearrangement in Vía Brazil, the widening of Ave. Domingo Diaz Avenue and the renovation of the Historical Heritage, in Casco Viejo.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/martinelli-frontman-named-in-91-million-panama-bribery-case

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Spanish court probes $91 million bribes for Panama contracts

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Posted 23/11/2019

A representative of FCC the Spanish construction conglomerate before the National Court of Spain on Friday to talk about its illegal acts in Panama. in which tens of millions of dollars would have been paid in bribes to members of the Martinelli and Varela administrations related to building the metro and Hospital City.

At the moment, the depositions of the FCC executive are kept under summary secrecy, since the investigation in Spain is still ongoing, by the anti-corruption prosecutor Teresa Gálvez, who is also investigating the Odebrecht case.

The prosecutor is the same one who has interrogated and investigated Odebrecht's financial operator Rodrigo Tacla Durán, who has involved former president Juan Carlos Varela in Odebrecht's corrupt plot.

Timothy Scorah, the legal representative of the Panamanian company Aeon Group, used by Odebrecht to pay bribes to former Panama officials, could not appear on Friday.

Alfonso Iglesia , legal representative appointed by FCC, answered for about an hour the questions of the judge Ismael Moreno , head of the case that accuses the Spanish construction company of paying more than 82 million euros ( $91 million, in coimas (bribes) to obtain the adjudication of the construction of lines of the Metro and the City of Health, among other works in Central America and Panama.

During the interrogations, the anti-corruption prosecutor, Teresa Gálvez, was present.

Gálvez directed the investigations around the figure of the former financial operator of Odebrecht, Rodrigo Tacla Durán, who in an interrogation in February 2017 unveiled the modus operandi for distribution of coimas through Latin America by the Brazilian company.

Judge Moreno charged the three subsidiary companies of FCC as legal persons, for international corruption in Panama.

Aeon Group was one of the screen companies, re-transferable to front men, created by the Private Bank of Andorra (BPA) so that Odebrecht could execute without leaving a trace of its scheme of payments of bribes to a long list of frontline politicians who favored the construction company with contracts in several Latin American countries.

Judge Moreno explained that several senior executives (currently dismissed) of the FCC mercantile companies participated in the corruption scheme, who maneuvered the denounced contracts and covered up the payment of the bribes with alleged commercial consulting work and other tricks between 2010 and 2014. The corrupt strategy, according to the information provided by Swiss authorities, also consisted of oversizing the supply of steel needed to build the Panama Metro and billing it at double its price.

“Funds that were destined to the alleged payments of corruption through a sequence of instrumental societies and bank account circuit to end up paying those illicit gains in covert corruption payments as commercial commissions and to third-party policymakers and public employees,” said the magistrate.

Among the recipients of the commissions would be a frontman of former Panama president Ricardo Martinelli.

The magistrate places special emphasis on the criminal responsibility of the company. "There was no definition of a business ethic nor were there any prevention instruments aimed at establishing a culture of respect for current legislation," Moreno explained. "The indications reveal a radical violation of legality and behaviors that seriously attacked free and straight competition in international contracting," he said.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/spanish-court-probes-91-million-bribes-for-panama-contracts

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Panama gave Spain link to Martinelli frontman channeling $91 million

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Mauricio Cort

Posted 26/11/2019

Information provided by the Panamanian Prosecutor's Office about a company headed by   lawyer Mauricio Cort – identified  as the  frontman  for former president Ricardo Martinelli - led the current Directorate of Spanish construction giant  FCC  to initiate an internal investigation that allowed the discovery of the payment of commissions for $91 million, between 2010 and 2014, in exchange for public works awards in the isthmus.

This was stated by the FCC legal representative during his appearance before Ismael Moreno, judge of the National Court, as reported by El Español .

Alfonso Iglesia, legal representative appointed by the three subsidiary companies of FCC charged as legal persons for international corruption in Panama, appeared at the offices of the National Court of Spain, in Madrid.

The case accuses the Spanish construction company of  the payment of more than 82 million euros in coimas (kickbacks) to obtain contracts  for  construction of metro lines and the City of Health.

According to El Español , FCC explained to Moreno that the internal investigation that led to the discovery of an alleged international bribery of greater scope than the one known until then by the National Court had nothing to do with the proceedings initiated in 2017, but had its origin in a meeting held in Panama with the prosecutor of that country, int April.

In that interview, Panamanian prosecutors asked the FCC envoy about what he knew of a company linked to Cort who, they suspected, was able to channel multi-million dollar bribes.

 The compliance committee of the Spanish construction company approved the initiation of inquiries that resulted in the presentation of two complaints in the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office on May 31 and June 6.

The newspaper report shows that FCC delivered 38 invoices and transfers made between the end of 2010 and 2014 - prior, therefore, to the current managers of the construction company - r fictitious technical consulting services

At the time of being questioned, the legal representative of the construction company explained that she could not provide the information given that the company did not know about these transfers until the Panamanian prosecutor put her on the trail of a certain company of Mauricio Cort.

Int October, the National Court charged subsidiary companies of the FCC for the alleged commission of corruption offenses in international transactions involving projects developed in Panama.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/panama-gave-spain-link-to-martinelli-frontman-channeling-91-million

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Construction boss reaches collaboration deal in Panama bribery probe

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Posted 05/12/2019

A former director of the Spanish construction company FCC, which is accused of distributing millions of dollars in bribes in  Panama to gain government contracts has reached a collaboration deal with the Attorney General's Office of Panama, as part of investigations against the company for alleged money laundering.

The agreement  hearing was held at the  Panamanian embassy in Spain, through a video link  giving the staff of the Panama Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office access to the testimony of the former director whose identity has not been revealed

The testimony of explains how the Panama contracts were  handled.

Panama investigates the alleged commission of crimes against public administration and money laundering, related to: Vía Brasil Section I and II, widening of Avenida Domingo Díaz, Renovation of Casco Viejo and constructing Cinta Costera III. An audit p by the Comptroller General  concluded that there was a surcharge of $41,761,011, , which is in  addition of the money for  the payment of the coima  (kickback) which would exceed $100 million

On November 22, another proceeding took place at the National Court of Spain, against FCC, for alleged corruption in international transactions and money laundering, for payment of $91 million in bribes for public contracts in Panama.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/construction-boss-reaches-collaboration-deal-in-panama-bribery-probe

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Another year to probe FCC money laundering allegations

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Posted 11/12/2019

The investigation of alleged money laundering embezzlement and corruption, through the  payment of bribes by the Spanish company Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas (FCC ) has been declared complex by the 11th Criminal Court and will continue for another 12 months

The decision was adopted by the substitute judge Minerva Aminta Flores, on December 6, in response to a request by prosecutor Ruth Morcillo.

The work on Via Brazil was awarded in the government of Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) for $174.5 million, but it ended up costing $ 216.2 million.

The lawyer Mauricio Cort, a Martinelli frontman at the time is detained preventively.

The National Court of Spain, which is carrying out an investigation against FCC also for money laundering, has indicated Cort as a frontman who managed accounts and corporations for the payment of premiums in infrastructure works.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/another-year-to-probe-fcc-money-laundering-allegations

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Why bother?  Considering Panamanian courts recent rulings, no one of any importance will ever be found guilty of anything.  

 

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8 hours ago, JohnF13 said:

Why bother?  Considering Panamanian courts recent rulings, no one of any importance will ever be found guilty of anything.  

We have all seen money buy innocence, even in Canada. (Dennis Oland recently), while innocent people without means have spent years behind bars. (too many to mention), but here in Panama it seems that the outcomes of criminal cases are known before charges are even laid.

Currently two of the three branches of government here are known to be corrupt, the Courts and the National Assembly. We don’t know yet about the third, the Cortizo administration.

Edited by Keith Woolford

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International media report Martinelli to alleged FCC bribery probe

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Ricardo Martinelli

Posted 02/01/2020

The name of former Panama president Ricardo Martinelli has again surfaced in international media  carrying reports  of the scores of millions of dollars alleged paid in  bribes by the Spanish FCC in Panama and other Central American countries

The company was awarded the construction of the Vía Brasil road rearrangement project and participated together with Odebrecht as part of the consortium that built Lines 1 and 2 of the Panama Metro.

As reported by the Spanish El Confidencial , the works in Vía Brasil, join the group of works allegedly rigged by FCC in Panama, by paying commissions that would add up to $82.7 million

The bribes would have been executed through a complicated network of companies that would have ramifications in Uruguay, Andorra, and Switzerland, and the funds would have ended up in the office of local lawyer Mauricio Cort, alleged to gave been the frontman for Martinelli during his presidency 2009-2014..

The report of the international media also indicates that the investigations have advanced in other works that are suspected of irregular operations such as lines 1 and 2 of the Panama Metro and the Hospital City, which to date remains paralyzed reports TVN News.

The Spanish  newspaper  publication says  “the company has been forced to admit that it achieved those

orders by buying Martinelli, not only with the payment of commissions, but also gave him a 50% stake in the Altos del Javier society SA , a company constituted by the construction company in 2011.

FCC would have created Altos del Javier SA, to buy the farm where the old facilities of the Javier College were, whose buildable area is 30,000  square meters. The campus moved to Clayton in 2010. The following year, the Society of Jesus sold o FCC the land it had occupied for half a century inPerejil, for $17.1 million.

" Neither the neighbors of the area, who have complained repeatedly about the abandonment of the facilities after the Jesuits left, never knew that FCC had bought the land, and less, that Martinelli

had taken half of the land " , says the report.

Meanwhile, to pay the bribes of lines 1 and 2 of the Panama Metro, FCC used shadow companies and contacts provided by Odebrecht.

In the case of the Hospital City, FCC designed its own system to get the money to former president Martinelli, through transactions in bank accounts in Switzerland and Andorra.

The authorities in Spain keep track of other FCC project transactions that were made in Panama and other countries in the region.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/international-media-report-martinelli-to-alleged-fcc-bribery-probe-1

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