The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – Panama and the United States shared more than $36 million in criminal property confiscated from money laundering, which was seized in an operation in 2000 which involved jewelry stores in the Central American country, diplomatic sources said today.
“The distribution of wealth is the result of an investigation launched in 1998 by agents of the DEA in the U.S. and Panamanian authorities from Speed Jewelers SA,” said the U.S. Embassy in Panama in a statement.
In the research it was discovered that the owners of the Panamanian jewelry company acquired massive amounts of profits derived from narcotics trafficking through other similar companies.
The agreement to share the property was formalized in a document signed by the U.S. Assistant Attorney General, James M. Cole, and Attorney General of Panama, Ana Belfon, today in Panama City.
The document recognizes that it is the first time that the Justice Department shared confiscated goods with the Government of Panama and it is the second largest amount shared by the Department of Justice with a foreign government.
The confiscated property will be used to strengthen the ability of Panama to combat money laundering and the seizure of illicit goods in criminal investigations and prosecutions.
The laws of the United States require that the international division of property authorized by an international agreement be divided between the United States and the recipient country.
Due to the large sum of money that is being shared, this agreement establishes a division executive committee composed of six members to monitor the distribution process and authorizes the committee to approve the selection of all programs and projects.
It was not clear whether the division of property is equal parts.
Other Central American countries that have received delivery of goods are Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras. The biggest beneficiary was Guatemala who had five separate cases of seizures.
In the past 24 years, he United States has shared more than $277 million in confiscated criminal assets with 54 countries, in recognition of their support in the investigations and prosecutions of criminals. (EFE)
The Costa Rica News (TCRN)
San Jose Costa Rica