Spanish version

LAVA JATO

Bank linked to funds from Active Capital

Banker Juan Antonio Niño has been linked to payments to Odebrecht by Brazilian prosecutors.

Spanish version

Temas:

New details are emerging about bribes paid by Odebrecht. New details are emerging about bribes paid by Odebrecht.
New details are emerging about bribes paid by Odebrecht. Archivo

Juan Antonio Niño, a well-known Panamanian banker who presides over Active Capital Holdings, which has clear links with Constructora Norberto Odebrecht, confessed to having paid at least $59,000 in fines in Panama.

Niño was no stranger to the past administration. His name appears as president of the corporation Corporación One Way, created in 2003, and that in the years of Ricardo Martinelli's government obtained several contracts with the state.

One of them, for a three-year lease at Village Mall in Coronado for nearly $40,000 for the headquarters of the Institute for Training and Human Resources Development as well as a contract with the state to maintain the common areas of premises in that same commercial center in Coronado.

Two more stores in that same mall were sold in 2010 by One Way Corporation. One for $382,000 to the National Lottery. The second, also sold in 2010, was through another contract with the National Bank of Panama for the purchase of commercial premises for its new headquarters in Coronado, worth $418,000.

Part of that shopping center was built on land that the Community Board of Las Lajas ceded to the Corporation One Way in exchange for the maintenance of a public school located in the area, which cost $55,000.

But as profitable as Corporacion One Way's business may be with the state, it is not these transactions that have drawn the attention of Swiss prosecutors, but the business of another society in which it appears with companies controlled by the Brazilian company Norberto Odebrecht, which has been tied to bribes in a dozen countries.

This is the company called Active Capital Holdings, which is chaired by Juan Antonio Niño. One of Odebrecht's companies, Sherkson, received money from Active Capital Holdings.

This was stated in February 2016 when the Swiss Public Prosecutor's Office, in a letter to Panama, asked Attorney General Kenia Porcell for information to complete its Odebrecht investigation.

It was the Swiss Public Prosecutor's Office that filed charges of money laundering against the two children of former President Ricardo Martinelli: Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares. As part of that investigation, prosecutors seized $20 million in bank accounts opened in Switzerland and which were classified as bribes paid by Odebrecht to Panamanian officials.

The Swiss prosecutors said a transaction was made in July 2014 for $488,457 by Active Capital Holding from an account in Multibank to an account in PKB Privatbank to Sherkson.

"It could be affirmed that this account also presumably has been used for criminal purposes," Swiss officials said.

But that's not all. Active Capital Holdings also made another deposit, on September 15, 2014, for $1.2 million from its Multibank account to a financial institution with strong ties With Odebrecht: the Meinl Bank.

The testimony of an informant banker unveils this relationship. Vinicius Veiga Borin, who in June of last year revealed that this bank - of Austrian origin - had a branch in the jurisdiction of Antigua, where the banker worked.

It was at this last bank where Veiga Borin met a key person for Odebrecht: Olivio Rodrigues, who also had accounts at Multibank, including one in the name of Constructora Internacional del Sur, SA, where payments were made for the company Kadair Investments, Ltd., whose beneficiaries are the children of former President Martinelli.

Veiga Borin reported that Rodrigues told him that he needed to open bank accounts "to make financial movements for Odebrecht."

Rodrigues and other financial operators of Odebrecht (Luiz Eduardo da Rocha Soares and Fernando Migliaccio) ended up controlling another bank in Antigua when they purchased a controlling interest. That bank was then used to move funds to Constructora Internacional del Sur accounts in Multibank and Credicorp Bank.

These same companies also sent millions of dollars to other accounts in Switzerland on behalf of Fordel International Ltd. and Aragon Finance Corp., both of which were allegedly controlled by Luis Enrique and Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares.

Rodrigues, Soares and Migliaccio, being members of Meinl Bank, received a fee of 2 percent of the value of each income from securities in Odebrecht's operational accounts at the bank, according to documents from the Lava Jato investigation.

It was Veiga Borin who revealed that a number of offshore companies held accounts at the Meinl Bank with their respective beneficiaries. These accounts "were opened on the advice of Odebrecht, but specifically by Luiz Eduardo [Soares] ... and received funds from Odebrecht's operational accounts," said the banker.

One of those accounts that received funds from Odebrecht was Pivotal Corp., said Veiga Borin. Its beneficiary, he added, is Carlos Ho González, who worked as national director of Special Projects of the Ministry of Public Works (MOP).

But the ex-official, who worked in the administrations of Martín Torrijos and Ricardo Martinelli, denies any association with that company or that he has received bribes.

However, the testimony of Veiga Borin is joined by another of the partners in the Meinl Bank: Marco de Sousa Pereira, who mentioned Ho González as beneficiary of an account created to channel improper payments, referring to Pivotal Corp.

According to Veiga, the company opened an account at Meinl Bank, but closed it after bank compliance officers found that Ho Gonzalez was a PEP (politically exposed person) for his position at the MOP.

Yesterday La Prensa asked Niño about both transactions. "In 2014 a local insurance company and a local insurance broker issue a policy to its client Constructora Norberto Odebrecht to cover the risks of an engineering work in Panama and invite us to participate in this project as reinsurers."

"The local insurance broker within the instructions includes a retrocession of risks and its premiums to a third reinsurer, whose payment instructions were requested by the reinsurer in the bank you mention. We have no relationship with that bank. It should be noted that this type of transactions are lawful and common in the insurance and reinsurance business," he said.

Niño added that "our client, who is the insurance company and the local broker, were the ones who issued the policy and gave the general instructions including the payment to Sherkson."

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