Prosecutor asks for audit of radar contract

The contract is the subject of an investigation.


Third Anti-Corruption Prosecutor Zuleyka Moore reported yesterday that she has applied to Comptroller Federico Humbert to audit the contract signed in 2010 between the government and Selex - a subsidiary of Finmeccanica - for the purchase of 19 radars for $125 million.

Moore explained that the request relates to the investigation into alleged irregularities in the purchase, namely that the radars don't work and the fact that they were never needed in the first place.

The investigation comes as evidence is being released that the radars, as well as a digital mapping system, were only purchased to increase the value of a deal with Finmeccanica to purchase helicopters to improve coastal security. That deal also included the donation of six patrol boats by the Italian government, which owns part of the defense contractor.

The government accepted that deal despite the fact that no comprehensive study was done to determine if the radars or mapping system were actually needed, and the fact that the patrol boats were basically worthless due to their poor condition.  

Moore also reported that she has requested information from Italian judicial authorities who are conducting their own investigation into alleged bribes paid by Finmeccanica to Panama officials.

Moore said it is "a complex investigation" which must be handled with discretion to ensure respect for the rights of those being investigated.

He said that some of the accused have applied for the change of the measure precautionary pre-trial detention by a less severe, but still has not decided.

Those charged include former Vice Minister of Public Safety Alejandro Garuz and former Minister of Public Safety José Raúl Mulino.

Former Minister of the Presidency Demetrio Papadimitriu has testified in the case, saying former President Ricardo Martinelli negotiated the contract directly with former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.



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