Former Minister of Health Franklin Vergara (2009-2012) has joined the growing list of officials of the government of Ricardo Martinelli who left the public service in much better financial condition than when they arrived.
In this case, the minister had to give up a lucrative medical practice when he took office. But this move turned out to be a beneficial one, as his net worth climbed steadily while he was in office at a rate that was double the amount of his salary.
There were also discrepancies in his declaration of assets that he filed upon taking office. That statement made no mention of a farm in Rio Hato, Coclé, that was at the center of a legal dispute he had with an investment company. That dispute was resolved in a settlement four months after he took office.
There are also questions about appointments he made while minister. One of these was the naming of Bernard Napoleón, a trained chef, as director of special projects in charge of the multi-million contracts issued by the ministry for hospital projects.
Vergara also saw the value of assets on his farm increase. For example, his cattle, valued at $165,000 when he took office, increased in value to $300,000 when he left.
Vergara is a shareholder in the company Hacienda Las Colinas, which bought a house in Vista Mar Golf & Beach Resort for $500,000 in 2012. He has claimed he has no ties to the company, and that it is owned by his wife and children.
"I have no properties of any kind," he stressed, saying his only contribution to the purchase was a gift of $35,000 to his children to help with the purchase.
According to information from the public record, the mortgage on the property was $262,800, meaning the balance, or $227,000, was paid in cash.
That is higher than the minister's net salary during his time in office.