SECURITY

Millions paid for non-existent map

The contract was part of the controversial deal with the Italian defense consortium Finmeccanica.

Temas:

The government of Ricardo Martinelli paid $9 million for a digital map which, to date, does not exist.

The contract - whose total cost is $22 million - was signed in 2010 by then-Minister of Public Works Federico José Suárez with Telespazio Argentina, a subsidiary of the Italian contractor Finmeccanica. It was supposed to "complement" a $250 million coastal surveillance defense plan that included 19 radars and six helicopters.

Suárez yesterday distanced himself from the issue.

"I don't remember any technical or financial details on the map," he said.

According to the contract, this map should have been delivered and installed by April 27, 2014.

President Juan Carlos Varela suspended payments once he took office due to alleged irregularities in the deal.

The government will request the Supreme Court declare the contract "null and void" as was done with the purchase of the 19 radars. That contract was signed by former Minister of Public Security José Raúl Mulino. The radars never worked properly as they were unable to detect speedboats used by drug traffickers, which was their primary function.

In its claim against the Telespazio contract, the government is claiming there was a lack of proper analysis to justify the purchase. It also states that the company paid kickbacks to former government officials in exchange for the contract.

Panama Ambassador to Italy Fernando Berguido has said the contracts are void because "because they represent a misuse of power."

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