Panama: Former People’s Defender arrested for embezzlement

PANAMA CITY, JUNE 21 (RHC) Panama’s mainstream media on Wednesday reflected on the arrest of the former ombudsman, Patria Portugal (2011-2013), who was convicted in 2022 of an offense against the public administration.

Some news outlets in Panama are specifying that the former official will serve eight years in prison for aggravated embezzlement, at the expense of the foundation she ran, which occurred in 2012.

The order became effective the day before in the criminal accusatory system, after the completion of a hearing requested by the prosecutor’s office.

Other news reports indicate that Patria Portugal was dismissed by the National Assembly in August 2013 after it was accused of cost overruns and alleged irregularities in direct contracting of two companies for the redesign of the organization’s website and turnaround consulting.

According to investigations, in April 2011, Portugal signed a contract with Imaginarium Studio, SA, as the ombudsman, for $ 249,845 to redesign the entity’s website, and the other in July 2011. 2013, for En Avant Saudi Arabia for $ 199,983 for personnel training.

The Public Prosecution explained that the former employee entered into direct contracts with these companies without justified reason, pointing to a “clear urgent necessity” that led to the misappropriation of funds from the public authority she directed and which had suitable employees for that study.

After a criminal process that lasted until August 2020, the former official was found guilty of embezzlement. In September 2022, the Supreme Court of Justice confirmed the 96-month prison sentence.

In December 2022, the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice rejected a request for clarification of the verdict after deciding that the appeal was inadmissible, the morning newspapers reported. (fountain:PL)

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