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Thu Nov 6, 2014, 01:37 AM

If Panama's Anti-Corruption Hunt Continues, Miami Should Watch Out

10:47 pm Fri October 24, 2014
If Panama's Anti-Corruption Hunt Continues, Miami Should Watch Out

By Tim Padgett

This past summer I wrote an article about Panama’s ultra-corrupt judicial system. It looked at the case of a dead man whose will had left tens of millions of dollars to poor children – and how the Panamanian Supreme Court made the highly suspicious decision to nullify that will and hand the money instead to rich adults.

After reading the piece, one Miami business leader tweeted: "This is why Panama will NEVER supplant Miami."

Meaning: As long as Panama’s government insists on wearing a three-ton millstone of sleaze around its neck – out of 142 countries, the World Economic Forum ranks Panama’s courts 133rd on the integrity scale – it’s not a real threat to depose Miami as the commercial nexus of the Americas.

The Panama Canal may be expanding and the country may be enjoying an extraordinary economic boom. But institutional trust and rule of law, the tweet suggested, spell the difference between doing business confidently on the Florida peninsula and investing warily on the Central American isthmus. (To those appalled by Sunshine State corruption, I can only say: Yeah, that’s how comparatively bad things are in Panama.)

Moncada is accused of parlaying his cronyist ties to former President Ricardo Martinelli into a fortune that doesn’t square with a judge’s salary. The evidence includes multi-million-dollar luxury apartments.


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