26/12/2012 - Secretary of State Communications Luis Eduardo Camacho said today that he recommended President Ricardo Martinelli not comment on the allegations published in La Prensa about his link to the Financial Pacific scandal.
"We all know that they manipulate information," Camacho said.
Angélica Maytín, the executive president of Transparency International Panama, said today that authorities should initiate an investigation into the allegations.
"Senior officials may not have shares in companies that develop business activities in the country, which benefits insiders," she said.
In the case of Financial Pacific, a former employee, Mayte Pellegrini, said that the brokerage house had a secret account, named High Spirit, which was opened to manipulate shares of Petaquilla Minerals, and that the account was Martinelli's.
Maytin argued that Panama should create a law regulating conflicts of interest and access to privileged information.
"In Panama there is nothing to prevent it and what there is, is an open window for such situations occur," she explained.
Both the Panama Stock Exchange and the Central American Stock Exchange spoke out today to deplore the chain of events surrounding the Financial Pacific case.
Through a press release, the two institutions highlighted the serious implications that this scandal has in the "performance and reputation" of the financial system in Panama.
It added that active participants of the Panamanian market should be concerned about the allegations of the irregular dealings with funds and investments, which not only constitutes an offence but mocks customers.
Both institutions strongly requested that a decision is made in the near future to allow the Superintendency of Securities to take appropriate measures to safeguard the assets and investments of customers.
Meanwhile, President of the Panamanian Association of Business Executives Roberto Troncoso said he believes that the Superintendency of Securities has been prevented from intervening in the case due to the interference of the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, opposition Legislator Jose Luis Fabrega asked the attorney general to investigate Martinelli's link to Financial Pacific.
"According to Pellegrini, the beneficiary of the account is Ricardo Martinelli and it is unacceptable that vetoing the mining law affected investors, but he benefitted due to his handling of the information," said Fabrega.
Panameñista Deputy José Luis Varela said today that President Ricardo Martinelli must give an explanation to the country about his supposed link to the Financial Pacific scandal.
"It is clear that the president has a duty to give an explanation," said Varela about the "serious accusations" made by Financial Pacific employee Mayte Pellegrini.
Pellegrini, who was being interrogated about millions of dollars missing from the firm, said that Martinelli was connected to a secret account, called High Spirit, that was used to buy and sell shares of Petaquilla Minerals.
Martinelli made several decisions about mining that impacted the share price of the company, which operates a mine in Colón, and could have profitted greatly from insider information. He has not yet commented on the allegations.
BELFON WILL NOT INVESTIGATE LINKS: BLANDON
Fellow party member José Isabel Blandón said today that new Attorney General Ana Belfon "will not investigate" the links that the president has to the case.
Blandón said that "not only will we see Ana Belfon with the mission to pursue the leaders of opposition, but also to shelve and prevent the objective investigation into the alleged cases of government corruption."
Blandón said that the president must clarify what happened and, in turn, the Public Ministry (MP) must continue investigating the scandal concerning Financial Pacific.
"It is important to have an independent, objective, Public Ministry to do these investigations," he added.
CRITICISM OF APPOINTMENTS
On the other hand, lawyer Miguel Antonio Bernal said that the breaking scandal sheds more light on the appointment of Belfon.
Bernal noted that it would not surprise him if the scandal was not investigated here in Panama. He said it is more likely that Belfon will investigate the people who reported these facts..
Bernal said he believes that Belfon will not comply with the Constitution, and the appointments of Belfon as well as José Ayú Prado to the Supreme Court represent a clear message from Martinelli that people who cross him will be punished.
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