The Supreme Court of Justice reversed a decision of the Second Superior Court, which had declared void a new line of investigation by the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office related to the bribes paid by the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht and which is now in the Fourth Criminal Court.
In a ruling of May 6, 2020 and under the presentation of Judge Ángela Russo, the Court revoked order No. 61-SI of September 21, 2019, which declared the investigation and a request for assistance null. judicial to the Swiss Confederation, Antigua and Barbados and the British Virgin Islands.
The ruling resolved a constitutional guarantee protection presented by the special anti-corruption prosecutor Tania Sterling, who assured that, contrary to what was affirmed by the Panamanian businessman Iván González - indicated in the investigation - his fundamental guarantees have not been violated.
González's defense alleged that, as part of the investigations into the alleged crimes committed by Odebrecht, the prosecution carried out proceedings with a view to investigating companies and companies linked to his client, without the latter having a lawyer to represent him.
According to González's lawyers, those proceedings included legal assistance requested by the prosecution from the authorities of the British Virgin Islands and Antigua and Barbuda, thereby violating the rules of procedural equality.
However, the Court concluded that although due process and international conventions recognize the right of every person to appoint a lawyer when appointed as part of an investigation, in this case it was proven that when the Public Ministry requested international assistance It did not handle elements that would make it possible to clearly determine the links of people with the illegal ones.
In addition, he stressed that it is not a procedural requirement to appoint a public defender to notify a person that the prosecution plans to carry out investigative acts.
Likewise, the magistrates highlighted that in this case, still considered as “summary under investigation,” González is not charged and only has the category of accused.
Sources from the Public Ministry detailed that this investigation, which began in 2017 based on information provided by the Swiss authorities, is related to activities of the company Flerigan International which, like the companies Klienfeld Services and Innovation Research Enginering and Development , would have been used by Odebrecht's structured operations department to pay bribes.
According to the Swiss authorities revealed to their counterparts in Panama, transactions of the Flerigan International company were reflected in banks in the British Virgin Islands and Antigua and Barbuda, hence the assistance requested from the authorities of those countries.
This investigation is separate from the process that is being followed in the Twelfth Criminal Court and in which 86 people have been charged for the alleged commission of the crime of money laundering. This last case is in the final phase of investigation, since the investigation period expires the second week of October.