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Panama president values corruption scandal involving predecessor at nearly $100 million

May 6, 2015

PANAMA CITY — Panama may have lost nearly $100 million to government corruption during the administration of President Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014), his successor said in an interview published Wednesday.

Martinelli, who has been out of the country for three months, is currently under investigation by the Supreme Court for alleged involvement in inflating government contracts by $45 million.

Several former ministers, senior government officials, businessmen and a judge have either been jailed or face trial for alleged corruption and illegal enrichment.

“The figure for patrimonial loss, which is in the process of being recovered, could be nearing $100 million,” President Juan Carlos Varela said in an interview with the newspaper La Prensa.

Varela said the tally could rise further as investigators uncover the full extent of the corruption.

Some of the worst cases have been traced to an aid program for disadvantaged school children, a tax company and the administration of parking facilities at Panama’s Tocumen International Airport.

Martinelli has said on repeated occasions that he and his party are victims of “political persecution” by Varela.

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