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SECURITY

Mulino denies knowledge of commission in defense contract

Temas:

Former Minister of Public Security José Raúl Mulino has denied having any knowledge of a $25 million commission to the Panamanian company Agafea that was part of a $250 million security contract he signed with Italian defense consortium Finmeccanica.

That payment has been described as a bribe by Italian officials investigating the contract.

In an interview on TVN Wednesday morning, Mulino defended the contract, saying it was in accordance with his vision for improving the company's security. The contract called for the purchase of helicopters and radars to monitor the coasts.

Asked about the payment to Agafea, he refused to answer on the grounds that he was not aware of the payment.

"Don't ask me what I don't know," he said.

According to Italian prosecutors, Agafea received 10 percent, or $25 million, of the contracts, signed with three subsidiaries of Finmeccanica: Selex, Agusta and Telespazio Argentina. The payment was described as a "consultancy agreement."

The beneficiaries of the payments to Agafea were former President Ricardo Martinelli and his associates, according to evidence collected by investigators in Rome and Naples.

He also said that, if a bribe was made, then current President Juan Carlos Varela shoudl also be held accountable, as he was the chancellor at the time.

This contradicted statements he made in 2011, when he said the chancellor should not be allowed to "meddle" in security matters and that his opposition to the contract was "a legal outrage."

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