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New report highlights Oderbrecht bribery through 3 administrations


The Cinta Costera one of Odebreckt's first major projects in Panama

Posted 28/06/2019

The Panama Metro, icon of the Martinelli Ns Varela and administrations, which changed the lives of thousands of Panamanians, was also a bargaining chip for bribes paid by Odebrecht. Of this project, at least $23 million would have been paid to local officials says an investigation by the  International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, (ICIJ) which sent shock waves through financial circles and governments around the world with the publication of the Panama Papers and the closing of the Mossack Fonseca network.

The latest claim  was corroborated by La Prensa when analyzing part of the 13,000 documents leaked from the communications of the Drousys system, as part of   Odebrecht’s Structured Operations Sector which  extracted millions of dollars of works awarded in Panama to Odebrecht. From the payment received by the company, this, through its Bribery Division, allocated a part to the Panamanian officials who participated in the crime.

La Prensa, like other publications in Latin America in countries embroiled in the Odebrecht bribery network, has published large sections of the investigation and brought under the spotlight dozens of prominent figures in the administrations of  Martin Torrijos, Ricardo Martinelli and Juan Carlos Varela, leading to moves  by the Public Ministry to extend investigations of Odebrecht’s Panama operations.

In the analysis presented it must be borne in mind that the calculation of what has been paid in bribes is partial because all the payment schedules are not present. In addition, there is evidence that the company destroyed information and documents mentioning works in Panama.

The nicknames used by some beneficiaries reveal the identities of some of them when relating to the money receiving companies. 

Simple, but effective. This was the strategy of Odebrecht to take over the mega projects in the countries where it decided to "compete". The bribe became currency and the construction company consolidated in the region ... until the mega-scandal broke.

Investigations rained in every country where Odebrecht had a presence, including Brazil, where its fall began in 2014, with the Lava Jato operation.

The ICIJ has had access to documents from the Drousys platform - the encrypted communications system used by Odebrecht's Structured Operations Sector to manage hundreds of millions in bribes.

In this new filtration -obtained by the Ecuadorian La Posta , and shared in the ICIJ- La Prensa has counted illegal payments from 2007 to 2014. It is not all, but the sum reaches  $73 million, not including invoices for the deviation of money to the  bribes division  nor the erased transactions, including  destruction of messages with mentions of works in Panama.

Bribery Sources
Th first project was the irrigation system Remigio Rojas, in 2006. His first  bribe recipients : Amigo da onca, Capitao y Salario. They received $136,000, The payment was ordered by AR, short for André Rabello , the then boss in Panama. The payment was ordered on Halloween day 2007.

But before - there had already been payments that continued during the rest of the Martin Torrijos' period (2004-09).

 Odebrecht payments
They were, in total,  10.5 million paid by the Structured Operations Sector (SOE) of Odebrecht, not including the payments of the first three.

The beneficiaries were hiding behind the Vernell Development Corp. ($ 1.3 million); Marpeach atrade Llc. ($1.4 million): World Values ($3 million); Beldent International Corp. ($600.000); Strategic Management Group ($150,000; Don James Foundation ($750,000; Caribbean Holding Services ($3.1 million) and Importadora Guiberug ($200,000). Only two projects fed these payments: the Madden-Colón highway and the Cinta Costera  (phase I).

The SOE used money from the Madden-Colón highway to pay about $11 million to 13 companies. Its recipient was the second most benefited by Odebrecht in Panama: “Cachaza.”

Mundial de Valores is related to businessman Rodrigo Díaz; Don James Foundation and Poseidon Enterprises, former Ambassador of Panama in South Korea and "lobbyist" of the Panameñista Party, Jaime Lasso; Marpeca Seatrade Llc, linked to the businessman Fotis Lymberópulos -recently released from investigation into this case- and Caribbean Holding Services Ltd., by fugitive Aaron Ronny Mizrachi, brother-in-law of Ricardo Martinelli.

Panama Metro
Most of the illicit payments in Panama, the SOE extracted it from the Metro, flagship project The Secretary of the Metro, and Canal  Minister, Roberto Roy, maintains that this work has been transparent. But, according to the data analyzed, money was extracted from this project to make illegal payments from 2011 to 2014.

The works of line 1, which ended up costing some $600 million over the award price, were in charge of the Odebrecht-FCC consortium. The Spanish authorities investigate whether FCC has obtained contracts in Panama and other countries through bribes. Odebrecht financial operator Rodrigo Tacla Durán said that he remembers "a bribe that Roberto Roy received from FCC." The official emphatically denies it.

In the data analyzed, nine people received the largest amount of funds from this work: Cachaza ($10 million); Aguia ($7 million); Canary ($3 million), Rato Roeu and Alemao ($1 million each), Ratatouille ($914000), Burger King ($105,000, Salary ($76 ,000 ) and Peao ($46,000 The same nicknames received funds from other works.

Cinta Costera 
The coastal strip was one of the main projects. The first phase was awarded to Odebrecht by the Torrijos government at a cost of $189 million, a work that Martinelli called the "coimera  (bribery)ribbon" .

From this project came multiple payments for, at least, $8 million, according to La Prensa  calculations

Some of the payments made by the SOE with funds from these projects date from 2009. Eight transactions, amounting to $2 million, went to the companies Importadora Guiberug, Caribbean Holding Services, Ltd., and the Don James Foundation. The forms do not detail the aliases of these recipients.

Cinta Costera III, awarded to Odebrecht in 2011 at an initial cost of $776 million, ended up costing, after four addenda, $782 million. Against their funds, payments were made for $6 million, between April 2012 and October 2014, although not all records are in.

It  benefited Sarawak, Idaho Holdings  Mext Trading, Ralfim, Poseidon and Westfall Holdings. The latter, linked to former Minister Jaime Ford, nicknamed Explorer in the spreadsheets.

 Westfall received $ 200,000 from the SOE in February 2014, from Cinta Costera  funds, and $1 million more from January to July 2014, taken from the historical heritage restoration project, in Casco Viejo



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Sweetheart deal beneficiary appeals new probe


MAURICIO Cort tries to dodge another bullet

Posted 10/07/2019

A  convivted man whose testimony helped prosecutors link a  former Minister and the sons of ex-president Ricardo Martinelli and Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares to Odebrecht bribes is trying to shut down another corruption investigation.

Mauricio Cort, investigated for alleged money laundering to the detriment of the Ministry of Public Works, filed an appeal for guarantees before the full Supreme Court of Justice seeking  to cancel the investigation by the Special Anticorruption Prosecutor for alleged payment of bribes through the company Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas ( FCC ), contractor of section II of the Corredor-Vía Brasil project.  

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

 Time lines
The investigation began April 27, 2017, based on an audit of the Office of the Comptroller. Since June 20, 2019 the case is in reserve.

It is up to Judge Hernán De León to decide whether or not to admit the appeal

In the case, the former Minister of Public Works (MOP )Federico Pepe Suárez is linked for alleged crimes against public administration along with the ex- MOP Director of Contracts Jorge Churro Ruiz, and his assistant Melina Cano. 

Suárez and  Cano are prevented from leaving the country, and Churro Ruiz is in custody.  

Judicial sources say that the Public Ministry kept the process in reserve based on Article 4 of Law 121 of 2013, which applies to investigations related to organized crime. The law allows the prosecution to protect sensitive information received from the investigation, with the purpose of not obstructing the investigations that are being carried out, as well as avoiding the possible escape of those linked to the process.

Sweetheart deal Mauricio Cort is one of those investigated bribes paid by Odebrecht, he agreed on a collaboration agreement and another on a  penalty with the Special Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office..

The court imposed a sentence of 48 months in prisonwhich was replaced by a fine of 200 days, at a rate of $250 per day, for a total of$ 50,000, which he had to pay in six months. He was also required to return $1.6 million in six months.



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Info  hidden on $100 million Panama bribes


Posted 14/07/2019

Panama’s The Public Ministry  has accepted that the Odebrecht company that paid scores of millions in bribes in Panama  did not tell the whole story, and  multiple probes  of high-level figures in the  Ricardo Martinelli era, including his two sons  continue

The information, was revealed through the filtering of 13,000  documents of the Structured Operations Sector (SOE) of Odebrecht and a good part does not appear in the judicial cases or official investigations carried out to date.  Reports La Prensa.

After the publication of the journalistic investigation of the  SOE, also known as the Bribery Division, the  Public Ministry confirmed that the construction company omitted information regarding its activities in Panama.

These are new company disclosures, nicknames that identified bribed officials and subcontractor companies of Odebrecht - among them, the Panamanian International Project Company (Cipsa) -, through which the Brazilian construction company laundered funds destined for Caja 2. or SOE.

The new information comes from a leak of  documents from the Drousys system, the SOE secret messaging, which has been disclosed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ ), to which La Prensa has access

These documents described payments whose orders came-through emails-from executives and SOE operatives, among them, the assistant of Marcos Grillo, the one in charge at the SOE to increase the funds for bribes, who operated with the alias Noshua , in which multiple transfers of hundreds of thousands of dollars are described in the so-called "Operation Panama", of which the Public Prosecutor confirmed that there are no records.

Although Odebrecht indicated that it has collaborated with the prosecutor's office by providing information that allows it to identify the beneficiaries and those of identity masked with nicknames, the Public Ministry said the company has not mentioned all the nicknames of Panamanian officials. In the SOE they, mention - some 32 aliases linked to the payment of bribes with funds extracted from public works awarded to Odebrecht in Panama.

The Anti-Corruption Special Prosecutor's Office said that for each work mentioned in the publications (10 projects) an investigation was initiated. However, the Odebrecht file is paralyzed in judicial stalling and reiterated that they require that they are granted a longer period to continue investigating, a request that was denied by the Twelfth Criminal Court.

The sum of the bribes of Odebrecht to Panamanian officials exceeds $100 million, says the Public Ministry.

On November 9, 2017, twelfth criminal judge, Óscar Carrasquilla, validated effective collaboration agreements with three Odebrecht executives. It is unknown how these agreements stand in light of the new findings.



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