David Eduardo Helmut Murcia Guzmán, the Colombian businessman who brought billions of dollars from his pyramid business to Panama, and invested much of it locally, has reportedly, through legal counsel, made a firm demand for the return of his assets. Murcia is believed to be a cooperating individual with US law enforcement agencies, and is no longer in Federal custody. Whether he is receiving assistance and support, in his quest to recover assets, from those agencies, is not known.
With respect to Panama, it is important to point out that Murcia was acquitted of all criminal charges filed against him in the Republic, meaning that he is not otherwise barred from seeking return of his funds and other assets. Also, while most Panamanians believe that he was extradited to Colombia, in truth and in fact, he was summarily, and without legal process, taken into custody, and flown to Colombia. In essence, he was expelled from Panama.
If you are wondering why, after his acquittal, he was removed from the country, you need only look at what happened to his investments, to know who was behind his expulsion: the banks where he had huge deposits, and the financial consultants who placed his money into real estate, luxury yachts, and other investments. These fraudsters quickly assumed control over his assets; many were held in bearer share Panamanian corporations, where the individuals in whom Mercia had placed his trust held the certificates of shares of stock. Quiet transfer was accomplished in private.
Now you know why Murcia is so angry; to illustrate just one of the cases, Murcia engaged the expat American businessman, Gary Lundgren, to purchase dozens of luxury condominiums, in both the residential and office categories. Lundgren converted these properties to his own use and benefit, after Murcia was abruptly removed from Panama.
He employed his principal attorney, Alcides Bartolo Peña Villar, known in Panama as the Fixer*, to effectuate the transfers of title to Lundgren's control. This was grand theft, through fraud, plain and simple. Lundgren reportedly used the cash he held for Murcia to participate in the Financial Pacific/ Petaquilla Mine insider trading securities purchases, on behalf of many of the members of Ricardo Martinelli's cabinet. Murcia cash became seed capital for Panama's biggest securities fraud case in history.
Most Panama analysts believe Lundgren was one of the prominent businessman who prevailed upon then-President Torrijos to expel Murcia, and that much of Torrijos present holdings, in the Dominican Republic, were purchased with Murcia's cash. I leave it to you to connect the dots. Many of the banks where Murcia had accounts took his deposits, and his yachts and luxury cars were also stolen.
These are but a sampling of the details of the widespread theft of Murcia's Panama holdings. Will Murcia recover his money ? We cannot say, but it will be interesting to see Panama's elite fraudsters, like Lundgren, squirm, thinking of the nasty litigation certain to come.
Peña is known to pay bribes to judges and prosecutors, to secure favorable rulings, or delays, in court proceedings, on behalf of his clients. He also is known to threaten physical harm to opponents of his clients, including Lundgren. Unfortunately, Panama has no system of discipline for attorneys, some of whom actually return to the practice of law after serving prison terms. In any other country, Alcides Bartolo Peña would be disbarred, and serving a long sentence in prison.