- El Día
Panama.- The Attorney General of the Panamanian State Administration, Rigoberto González, announced the opening of an investigation into the statements of Rodrigo Tacla, "Odebrecht's financial executor", in which he links President Juan Carlos Varela with bribes and illegal donations of that company.
"We are initiating an investigation. It is open because he (Tacla) makes a series of indications there that also implicate the Attorney General (Panama's Attorney General, Porcell)," who investigates the corruption plot of Odebrecht, Gonzalez told.
He added that this inquiry, which began "ex officio" after the statements Tacla to the newspaper El País, remains waiting to receive a response to a document sent in this regard - without specifying whom - to count "with information and make an assessment of what he asserts there."
Tacla told El País that Varela received bribes and illegal donations from Odebrecht for his campaign and the distillery owned by his family, something that the president has denied.
Another lawyer who was Varela's advisory minister, Ramon Fonseca Mora (partner of the controversial law firm Mossack Fonseca), made a similar charge months ago.
Panama's Public Prosecutor, Guido Rodríguez, said today that because of the reserved nature of the Panamanian public prosecutor's investigations into the Odebrecht corruption case, "there is no way of knowing" if said an investigative body received these statements from Tacla "and if it coincides with what El País reported daily."
"What I have said is that what is advisable, what is desirable, is that if there is no such declaration, (...) request judicial assistance in order that the Lord (Tacla) be ratified and present the evidence of what is said, because If he does not have proof of what he said, he will hardly be able to sustain it," Rodríguez said.
Tacla told the Spanish newspaper that the Brazilian construction company paid one million euros (1.17 million dollars) to two suppliers of the rum company owned by the family of President Varela and that ran at expenses of the campaign that took him to the Presidency in 2014, which the president called "totally false."
Tacla, who will be tried in Spain after the National Court rejected his extradition to Brazil, which claims that he allegedly laundered more than 12 million euros (about 14 million dollars) by order of Odebrecht, also said that the Panamanian Prosecutor's Office tried to obtain irregular information on the case.
The Panamanian Public Prosecutor's Office (MP-Prosecutor's Office) asked Tacla's statements "from the month of March to April 2017", said Porcell recently.
The Panamanian Attorney General announced last week that he signed an "effective collaboration agreement" with Odebrecht, which includes the payment of $220 million and the company's commitment to provide him with all the information related to Panama.
The Public Ministry has opened 26 investigations into Odebrecht with at least 43 defendants, including two children of former president Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014), Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares, who are in international search and capture.
Odebrecht admitted to the US Justice Department last December. Having paid $788 million in bribes in a dozen countries, of which $59 million was disbursed in Panama between 2009 and 2014.