Sting operation lifts lid on judicial mafia

(MENAFN- Newsroom Panama)  A Panama businessman frustrated by constant judicial decisions which he believed were bought, hired an Israeli detective team to investigate the judges he suspected, and their probe led to the unveiling of a corruption network that spread government entities and fingered prominent justice and administrative figures.

The revelations were published in La Prensa on Monday, September 2 in spite of threats of legal action from some of the characters named.

The report kicks off with a reminder that when ex-president  Ricardo Martinelli was in El Renacer Prison awaiting trial for illegal wiretapping he offered to pay each complainant $75,000 to each to drop their case against him. Instead, lawyers asked for $1 million each, Martinelli refused and boasted he would rather give $1 million to each Supreme Court judge. A draft decision by then judge Oyden Ortega, agreeing to a Martinelli defense request to move his case to an ordinary court was leaked to the media.

The businessman in explaining his reasons for using an Israeli team -Black Cube- pointed out that to probe communications of people approaching judges would require judicial authorization -asking permission to probe their colleagues.

The investigation uncovered a corruption network that went far beyond the businessman's own case including the  Migration Directorate, the Ministry of Labor, the Panama Mayor's office and bribes to magistrates of the Supreme Court.

'The reports of his case were barely the tip of a gigantic iceberg, ' said La Prensa.

At the center of the investigation was local lawyer Janio Lescure ,   who had previous links to  James Shackleford an American night club operator in Panama, arrested in Colombia for white trafficking With his 'credentials established   Lescure  became the target of an elaborate sting operation as Black Cube operatives posed as wealthy Russians planning to open brothels and nightclubs, staffed by Russian women in Panama.

They recorded multiple meetings in Panama, Madrid and Barcelona in which Lescure gave details of what he described as Panama's  'judicial Mafia.

Lescure spoke of the payment of bribes at the request of the Executive, as well as the payment for judgments to magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice, tailored to his clients, who, however, deny having paid a penny.

Janio Lescure achieved his goal: he left them impressed, but not in the way he expected. The Panamanian lawyer - invited by some potential clients to Spain - confessed that the Panamanian justice is a "mafia", but a mafia from which he can take advantage, especially, of magistrates of the  Supreme Court of Justice from whom he can obtain custom judgments.

Janio Lescure is not one of those high-profile lawyers on television. But his clientele is not exactly unknown. He has acted - for example - as part of the defense team of Mayer Mizrachi, accused of crimes against public administration to the detriment of the Government Innovation Authority.

But Lescure's notoriety is not just for that case. About ten years ago, Lescure was sanctioned by the  Supreme Court for violating the Lawyer's Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, which forced him to suspend the practice of law for three months.

At the end of January, Lescure was the subject of a report in Crónica, a publication of the Spanish newspaper El Mundo . Its title: ' The Spanish trap of the Panama lawyer who 'pays the judges'

La Prensa  had access to audio excerpts from the meetings that led to the report in Spain and can now be heard on



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