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SECURITY

Varela says Mulino should take responsibility for contracts

Temas:

President Juan Carlos Varela said today that former Minister of Public Security José Raul Mulino should be "held accountable for his actions" regarding the irregularities in the defense contract Panama signed with subsidiaries of the Italian consortium Finmeccanica.

The contracts, which total $250 million, have been called into question due to a $25 million commission, which prosecutors have described as a bribe, they contained as well as the fact that some of the equipment, specifically 19 radars purchased for $125 million, has failed to operate properly.

Varela said that the Cabinet Council was not made aware of the commission, which was paid to a shell company with ties to former Panamanian officials, was part of the contract.

"No one knew of the existence of Agafea, or ths structure of the commission," said the president in reference to the company.

He emphasized that Mulino negotiated the contract and assured the council that the equipment was needed.

He also said that Mulino should have suspended the contracts as soon as the irregularities were detected. Varela said that responsibility has now fallen to his government.

"The problem is how to retrieve the $120 million," he said, referencing the purchase price of the radars.

On Wednesday, Mulino appeared on a television talk show during which he criticized Varela and Panama Ambassador to Italy Fernando Berguido.

The former minister said that any irregularities were confined to Italy and did not include Panama officials. Berguido, meanwhile, has said that court records from Italy contain a vast amount of evidence implicating officials from this country.

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