Businessman Gabriel Gaby Btesh and lawyer Ricardo Chanis, who actively participated in the purchase of Editora Panamá América, S.A. (Epasa), presumably with public funds were the first prosecution witnesses to testify on May 24, the second day of the New Business trial.
It was reiterated that for the acquisition of Epasa, in 2010, various corporate schemes were used with the purpose of obtaining money from companies that signed contracts with the State for infrastructure works, in the five-year period 2009-2014, when Ricardo Martinelli was President.
In the investigation, it has been proven that Martinelli is the main shareholder of Epasa and is one of the 15 defendants who are currently on trial for alleged money laundering.
It was announced that commercial structures "permissive to money laundering" were used, such as factoring, corporations, trusts and false real estate purchase and sale contracts, among others, in a period of two weeks (from December 15 to 29, 2010) allowed the collection of $43.9 million for the purchase of the media group, deposited in a "basket" account in the name of the New Business company.
The court order mentions a report prepared by the Judicial Investigation Directorate (DIJ), which details there is no commercial relationship between the individuals and companies that made deposits to New Business for the purchase of Epasa since its shareholders were Martinelli and, to a lesser extent, the businessman Henry Mizrachi, who already handed over his shares to the State.
Gaby Btesh, a member of Martinelli's inner circle when he was president, was the first witness presented by the Special Prosecutor's
Btesh confessed that he received funds from David Ochy Diez, one of the owners of the contractor company Transcaribe Trading (TCT), to manage the purchase of Epasa. He e said that those instructions were given to him in writing. The contributions that TCT came from the payments received as part of the contract with the Ministry of Public Works (MOP), for the design and construction of the Arraiján-La Chorrera highway.
Btesh testified that in December 2010, Martinelli called him and asked him to "please" receive some funds that Ochy would send, to transfer to the New Business account, "for the purchase of the newspaper Panama America ”.
“Having said that, David Ochy calls me and tells me that Martinelli had called him to inform him that he had to transfer some money to the New Business account. When he told me the amount, $3 million, I informed him that it was too much money for me to receive and I had to ask my brother [Mike Btesh] and his partner [Danny David Cohen] for a favor so that they would receive a part of the money that Ochy was giving me" he narrated.
Ochy issued three checks to the accounts of MDM, Fursys Latin Corp, and Silver Bell Inc. These three companies received approximately $300,000 (each) from TCT. Additionally, his personal accounts received about $2 million. He later bought cashier's checks and these were deposited to the New Business account at Global Bank.
Now, all of them are accused: the Btesh brothers, Danny Cohen and David Ochy, although the latter is not part of the trial, since the process was declared broken, because he enjoys electoral jurisdiction as a presidential candidate for Realizando Metas (RM), the party that Martinelli founded.
Btesh said that he "had no relationship" with the New Business company and did not participate in the purchase of Epasa shares.