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  HOME | Central America

Panama President Demands That Judge Explain Growing Wealth

PANAMA CITY – Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela demanded Tuesday that the former chief justice of the Supreme Court, Alejandro Moncada Luna, explain what was reported in the local press as a disproportionate increase in his wealth.

The daily La Prensa said Tuesday that Judge Moncada Luna is the owner of Corporacion Alpil S.A., which last August made a cash purchase of a “$1.17 million apartment in a luxury condominium at Coco del Mar,” an exclusive residential neighborhood in the Panamanian capital.

The newspaper recalled that Moncada came to the Supreme Court in 2010, designated by then-President Ricardo Martinelli, while his wife, Maria del Pilar Fernandez, was working in the office of first lady Marta Linares de Martinelli.

And according to the daily, not far from the million-dollar condo that Moncada Luna bought last month, “in 2011 he purchased through another business” identified as Corporacion Celestial, “an apartment on the 26th floor” of the Ocean Sky residential tower.

For that property he put down “$400,000 in cash. The remainder of the purchase price, which was over $500,000, was covered by a loan from the Banco Nacional. The debt was soon paid off by the couple and today the Moncada Lunas live in that apartment,” the online edition of the newspaper said.

La Prensa said that with both their salaries added together, the Moncada Luna-Fernandez couple “would never be able to pay the price of those assets.”

“Other assets are being tracked, all registered in the name of companies and foundations,” the daily said.

The Panamanian president said this Tuesday during a public event that for at least “two years” there have been constant complains against Moncada Luna and that the judge must come forward with an explanation.”

“I believe it’s up to him to explain. One can’t help but notice the cash he pays for properties like these,” Varela said in a statement to reporters.

At the same public event, ex-President Martinelli dismissed the complaints agains Moncada Luna as a “trial by media” promoted by the Panamanian presidency, and asked everyone to wait until the judge tells his side of the story.

Up to now, Moncada Luna, chief justice of the Panamanian Supreme Court between 2012 and 2013, has refrained from making any comments on the news article.

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