The Panamanian prosecutor's office requested today the trial of 16 accused, including former Vice President Felipe Virzi (1994-1999) and former directors of the state bank Caja de Ahorros (CA), for the granting of an irregular loan to build a convention center.
The anti-corruption public prosecutors (MP) Tania Sterling and Adecio Mójica made the request for a trial appeal, in a preliminary hearing of the 14th Criminal Court of Panama, within the process of 22 people for the crime of embezzlement.
Prosecutor Sterling alleged that they have all the elements tying them to the crime, such as the "expeditious" approval of two credit lines for 30 million dollars, as well as the guarantee for the approval of the credit by the Board of Directors of the CA .
Sterling indicated that no-objection certificates were granted without an award and an order to proceed by the company that was to build the Amador Convention Center, and "that the loan money was used for private purposes, and not for the civil work".
The prosecutor also noted that the company that was awarded the construction, three years later canceled the amount borrowed, as
agreed, which, she argued, "does not exclude them from the committed crime, because they harmed money of the AC", according to a statement from the Judicial Branch (OJ).
In addition to Virzi, the prosecution requested the prosecution of Riccardo Francolinni, Ricardo Arango, Anastacio Ruiz, Fernando Correa, Jayson Pastor, Rodrigo Arosemena, former directors of the CA; Ricardo Alberto Chanis Correa, Jairzon Hurtado, Manuel Morales, Tobías Garrido, Alberto Calvo, Claudio Poma Murialdo, Mauricio Ortíz, West Valdes and Iván Clare, these last two former directors of the defunct stock house Financial Pacífic (FP).
The MP requested a provisional dismissal in favor of Elyonor Vanessa Samudio, Voldy Wedemeyer Ortega, Eric Quintero, Luis Díaz, Luisa Sánchez and Rolando López.
This investigation was initiated ex officio on October 23, 2015, based on a journalistic publication that revealed the award in 2012 of a 30 million loan to the HPC Contratas consortium, approved by the CA in an irregular and expedited manner.
Because of this, the prosecutor's office investigates the concession in 2012 of a millionaire loan approved by the then direction of the CA to build a convention center in the capital, on the well-known Calzada de Amador.
The company benefiting from the loan was HPC-Contratas-P&V, linked to the businessman and former vice-president Virzi and to people close to former president Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014).
According to the investigations, the businessmen of the consortium asked that the credit be given to different companies that were not related to the civil work.
Part of the loan, according to local press, was used to help plug a $12 million financial hole in the defunct FP securities house.