Spanish version

GOVERNMENT

Building rentals questioned

An investigation has started into the nearly $700,000 paid by the government to renovate buildings being rented by the PAN.

Spanish version

Temas:

Rental contracts for three buildings occupied by the National Assistance Program (PAN) are being investigated due to the links between the properties and the previous government.

The properties, Los Monogramas, Casa Verde and María Mercedes, have been linked to businessman Gabriel Btesh, a close associate of former President Ricardo Martinelli, under whose administration the PAN was started.

The buildings were remodeled for $699,000 in 2014 with state funds. After the renovations, the annual rent of the buildings was increased by $110,865 to $662,000.

President Juan Carlos Varela has questioned the lease agreement, saying the transactions were not handled in a transparent manner and that state funds were apparently used to benefit a private entity.

"It is very worrying that, as we try to move forward, we keep finding cases that we have to investigate," Varela said.

PAN Director Rafael Stanziola said that an investigation into the matter has already begun.

"We are waiting for the results from the Public Prosecutor's Office," he said.

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