A political storm of unpredictable consequences was unleashed today by the admittance of President Juan Carlos Varela, who received indirect donations of Odebrecht for elections through his party.
‘Political donations are no crime, bribes are’, he said to reporters when denying his presidential campaign received money in a direct form, but asserted his Partido Panameñista did receive money through a person related to that company, fact explained in a communique released by the party.
Without naming the person, Varela referred to the questioning by the Prosecution of Jaime Lasso, leaked to the media, who revealed having received 700 thousand dollars for the 2009 campaign, when Varela was elected Vice President in the formula with former president Ricardo Martinelli.
These reactions anticipated the audience on homologation according to the prized denunciation (efficient collaboration, in legal terms) between the Prosecution and three accused who are part of the bribing scheme of the company to public officials in Panama.
According to prosecutor Zuleyca Moore, the former representative of the building company in the country, Andres Campo Rabello, identified in the act as ‘collaborator one’ asserted that payments were made to Lasso through the Klienfield company, in favor of societies V-Tech Ltd. And Poseidon Enterprises LL, in the Meini Bank in Antigua.
The Panamanian Catholic church admitted last night it received donations from building company Odebrecht, reacting to statements of the president, who mentioned the institution and asserted that is not a crime.
Responding to the president’s words, the Metropolitan Archbishop Jose Domingo UIloa told Telemetro channel he ‘does not admit to be put in the same bag with the rest, nor that the church be accused’, when he asked that a difference be made between politicians and civil entities.
He recognized the Brazilian firm made contributions to the religious institutions he heads, ‘when we really did not know what Odebrecht was scheming’.
But at the same time, he marked the distance from the aim of donations to parties, because ‘as Panamanian politics go, we have to say with sorrow, it is almost a business investment’, he sentenced.
‘We in Panama are inclined to judge others and turn against the other when the finger is also pointed at you’, affirmed in clear response to the President.
The religious dignitary so faced Varela who, when trying to defend himself on donations to his campaign, asserted to journalists that local media companies TVN and Medcom received money from the construction company for publicity, and followed talking of donations to the Church, because Odebrecht ‘was an important actor’ in the country, he stressed.