Spanish version

POLITICS

Varela looks to recover $100 million

He says this was the amount stolen from the government during the previous administration.

Spanish version

Temas:

In an interview at the offices of La Prensa Tuesday, President Juan Carlos Varela said at least $100 million was stolen from the government during the previous administration.

According to the president, the figure could increase as prosecutors continue their corruption investigations.

"There are indications that the number will be much bigger than we  expected, and the amount we can recover will be a much more important figure," he said.

He said the greatest amounts were taken from the National Assistance Program (PAN) and in the collection of back taxes by a private entity hired by the previous administration.

"These are very important cases of unjustified enrichment of officials and financial injury," Varela said.

He said that more than $40 million has been found in bank accounts linked to former PAN Director Rafael Guardia Jaén.

In the case of the purchase of dehydrated food by the PAN from the company Lerkshore International Limited, the injury to the state is estimated at $30.4 million.

He also estimated the economic damage of the hiring of the company Cobranzas del Istmo to collect back taxes at $22 million, the amount the agency collected from the state agency that runs Tocumen International Airport. Another case involves the nearly $2 million that the government recovered once it cancelled the parking concession at Tocumen granted to the company Sky Parking.

As far as the identity of the real owners of Cobranzas del Istmo, the president said that is the responsibility of prosecutors investigating the case. 

"They must determine the ultimate fate of those funds and hold those responsible accountable," he said.

In his view, it was "totally unacceptable" that the previous government made the payments to the company.

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