A case that occupied the front pages of the media six years ago, the embezzlement to the stock house Financial Pacific, culminated with the phase of allegations that were heard in a preliminary hearing held on Friday in order to determine the responsibility of each of the accused.
Judge Johann Barrios accepted the 30 days established by law to decide who he calls to trial.
The investigation that in 2012 began the Thirteenth Prosecutor's Office was marred by the allegations of one of the main ones mentioned of having diverted $ 12 million from the so-called Kasutai account and distributing the money among several relatives and corporations outside of Financial Pacific: Mayte Pellegrini, Former employee of the house of values. Then, she warned of a supposed partiality of the Prosecutor's Office in favour of the managers of the house of securities and another series of alleged irregularities, such as the purchase of shares of Minera Petaquilla that, she claimed, were acquired with the shelter of privileged information.
The main defendant, according to the discharge prosecutor Aida Castro, is Mayte Pellegrini, who worked in the Operations Department of the investment company (2008-2012). In addition, the prosecution requested a trial for the alleged crime against the economic order for another ten people, including several family members of Pellegrini.
One of the accused, Marcial García, signatory in the Kasutai account, from where most of the money was moved, is a fugitive from justice with a red alert from Interpol.
Garcia, a Venezuelan national, is identified by the Office of the Prosecutor as Pellegrini's partner in the sale of Venezuelan oil bonds. The Office of the Public Prosecutor maintains that $ 18 million was transferred through this account and diversified to third parties.
This fact, which began as a result of a lawsuit filed in July 2012 by the directors of the securities house, Iván Clare and West Valdés, accounted for an embezzlement of $ 12 million that supposedly went to give accounts to third parties and third parties to Financial Pacific.
At the preliminary hearing, the attorneys for the accused filed appeals on the basis of a statute of limitations and annulment of the hearing. In the first case, they alleged that the crime had occurred in 2009, and that the statute of limitations for the criminal action should apply. In the case of nullity, they alleged that more than a thousand pages had been lost from the file and that before reaching the preliminary hearing, a hearing had to be held in the presence of the parties for the replacement of the file.
However, Judge Barrios dismissed both situations. In the first, the prosecutor argued that it is not a consummated crime, but continued, and that the last bank transaction was registered on May 28, 2012. That is, the criminal action is still valid.
With regard to the incidents of nullity, the prosecutor said that it has never been named which pages are needed. The judge indicated that he made sure that the file was complete, "maybe they were incorporated in disorder, but the acts are there," Barrios said.
When the preliminary hearing was opened, several lawyers, including Kevin Moncada, Pellegrini's attorney, requested an abbreviated process, before announcing the innocence of their clients, but the judge dismissed the request.
ACCREDITATION OF THE FACT
The prosecutor began her presentation with the proviso that although the directors of Financial Pacific today face accusations of irregular management in the company, in the case of embezzlement there is clear evidence pointing to a series of transactions that were made in favour of family members. Pellegrini and companies that had no relationship with Financial Pacific.
Two audits were part of his evidence. Both yielded similar results. In addition to one more from the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences, which determined that from the account Kasutai (a pyramid in which employees and executives of the house of securities personally invested) checks were written without justification in the name of those indicated.
The Prosecutor's Office alleges that there was a triangulation of the money to the detriment of the investors of the securities house. It is determined that between 2009-2012 Pellegrini made movements of funds not authorized by Financial Pacific or by customers, from the accounts of local banks to unrelated accounts in the amount of $ 6,784,822. Meanwhile, expenses accounted for $ 5,428,692, giving a total of $ 12,213,515.
It has not been possible to determine who benefited from the $ 5 million.
Supposedly, Pellegrini made a control chart of the monthly transactions and showed differences in their description with respect to what is reflected in the account statements.
He alleges that he created fictitious fixed terms to cover the missing ones.
The Office of the Prosecutor points to Pellegrini for having carried out the transactions, while the latter alleges that he followed orders from his superiors. The prosecutor wonders how the managers would order her to transfer money to her relatives. Prosecutor Castro questioned that these monies were justified as Pellegrini's commissions and that they were sent to the accounts of their relatives. An approximate of $ 156 thousand.
He also mentioned that an audit report found that Kasutai acquired two departments in the name of Good Employee Trainers.
Moncada, Pellegrini's defence, dismissed the allegations of the Prosecutor's Office. He said it was based on false evidence. He enumerated that the corporations mentioned by the prosecution are the result of a search in the Public Registry of the companies in which the name of his client appears, but that some do not even have a bank account.
He explained that Kasutai was a pyramid and when the money was over the losses surfaced. He said that in the beginning, everyone made a profit, money was invested from clients and the executives of the house of values were encouraged. The latter is supported by checks written by executives Valdés and Clare in the name of Kasutai.
He said it was false to have acquired a house in the name of his client's mother.
'While it is true they did things that are not moral, they are not framed in crime. She, Pellegrini, received an approximate of $ 3 thousand monthly product of their commissions, and the transfers were made on behalf of third parties to avoid paying taxes, 'the lawyer confessed.
He asked what evidence the prosecution had to say that his client is responsible for an embezzlement for $ 18 million. He then said that the Superintendency of the Securities Market (SMV) made a report in which he blamed the managers of the stock house for the irregularities that occurred there.
He added that the bank reconciliations made by his client had to be reviewed by the executives, that the authorization of client funds to cover the shortfalls of the brokerage house was by order of the directors, according to the expert's report of the SMV.
He also defended the fact that the transactions by ACH that the Prosecutor's office endorses him were made with Clare's code. Therefore, the doubt about who made these banking movements should favour their client.
Moncada, as well as the defence of Vivian Villarreal and Carlos Pellegrini, requested definitive dismissal for their clients.
THE FINANCIAL AND THIRD-PARTY MONIES
The preliminary hearing continues today with the rest of the defence's arguments.
The prosecution said that another of the defendants, Vivian Villarreal, received a transfer for $ 106 thousand without having any relationship with the securities house Financial Pacific. He indicated that the accused could not be investigated and, therefore, it was impossible for him to know the reason why he received the money.
However, his defense denied that Villarreal was not available. "She was detained for two months and the Public Prosecutor never investigated her, how can we call someone to trial without having been heard," lawyer Julio Pinzón asked.
Carlos Pellegrini, brother of Mayte Pellegrini, was also defended by his lawyer, Sergio Morales.
Among its main arguments, Carlos Pellegrini indicated that the forensic audit stipulated that it was not a single person who handled the money of Financial Pacific, and mentioned some made by managers Iván Clare and West Valdés. "Not only the employees made bank movements, why is not everyone investigated," said Pinzón.
He also noted that Valdés signed checks of over one million dollars in favour of Kasutai Group, but that both were protected by the previous administration.
The Office of the Prosecutor indicated Carlos Pellegrini as the beneficiary of a check for $ 60 thousand from Kasutai. The funds transferred by Mayte Pellegrini were money that, in turn, had been transferred from Financial Pacific.
When Carlos Pellegrini surrendered his investigation, he admitted that he wrote checks from the company Good Employee Trainers, which links him, according to the Prosecutor's Office, to the commission of the act.
It was about money from the investors, according to Aida Castro, the discharge prosecutor who attended the hearing.
In addition to the aforementioned, the Prosecutor's Office called Marcial García, Margorie Guerrero, Carmen Puerta, Carlos De León, Hernán Cortés (ex-executive of the bank that opened the Kasutai account and spent four years in prison), Arturo Donahue and Stefanie de Donahue. He requested provisional dismissal for Oscar Rodríguez and Norman Castrellón.
For their part, the lawyers opposed the request of the Prosecutor's Office, and asked the Court to issue a final dismissal in favour of their representatives at the time of issuing their decision, considering that there is no evidence to prove the criminal conduct .
Chronicles of Monte Friesner – Financial Crime Analyst
Courtesy of Adelita Coriat (La Estrella – Panama