Spanish version

FINANCE

More details emerge in FP case

An account within the failed brokerage firm, High Spirit, has been linked to companies involved in corruption investigations.

Spanish version

Temas:

More details have emerged in the irregularities in transactions involving High Spirit, an account at the brokerage house Financial Pacific that has been linked to former President Ricardo Martinelli.

High Spirit invested in the purchase of shares of Petaquilla Minerals and Inmet Mining, companies that benefited from decisions made by Martinelli. It also has been linked to transactions from shell companies that have been linked to corruption investigations.

For example, Financial Pacific (FP) used the High Spirit account to purchase shares of Petaquilla for 55 cents in March 2010. Later that year, the shares were sold at a much higher price after a Martinelli decision allowed the company to begin mining operations in Colón.

High Spirit also showed a profit when it invested in Inmet Mining shares.

These transactions have raised allegations that Martinelli used the account to trade shares of the mining stocks using insider information. But now the origin of the money used to finance these purchases have also come under scrutiny.

According to a report from the Superintendency of Securities, the movement of money through the High Spirit account raised concerns about money laundering. One of its beneficiaries and signatories was Aaron Mizrachi, the brother-in-law of Martinelli.

A company linked to Mizrachi, Caribbean Holding Services, made irregular deposits into the account. That company was used to purchase surveillance equipment during the Martinelli government.

The company Jal Offshore, which had an account in FP, deposited $1 million to the High Spirit account. Jal Offshore also had an account with Banco Universal, which regulators have also targeted for suspicious transactions.

Felipe Virzi, a close associate of Martinelli who is facing corruption and money laundering charges, deposited $1.5 million in Jal Offshore.

Jal Offshore also received payments from Langton International Deposit Holdings, the company that received $25 million in payments from Cobranzas del Istmo, the company under investigation for receiving excess commissions under its contract with the state Department of Revenue. The owner of the company has admitted to paying millions in kickbacks to Ricardo Martinelli.

The details have come to light as the result of an investigation into Financial Pacific which has resulted in a number of criminal charges against former company officials and employees of the Superintendency of Securities. There is also the possibility that Martinelli could also be charged in the case, though that decision will be made by the Supreme Court. 

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