Toxic smoke in Panama banking district

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pataconUPDATED BELOW - Four days ago, the garbage dump on Cerro Patacon took fire and has been burning since. Large clouds of toxic smoke continue to descend on the city. Since the budget of the fire department is about as high as what our president spends on publicity per year, there is not much they can do about the dioxin fumes wafting from the site.

Or is there? Of course the government, such as it is, could ask for help. Maybe Colombia has fire-fighting planes. Or the gringos.

Or maybe, instead of buying useless radar equipment and noisy second-hand Italian patrol boats, a fraction of that money could have been invested in fire-fighting equipment or sustainable waste management.

True to form, Martinelli & Co are improvising. First they were going to hire consultants to see what to do, and so that they could skim off the fees and pocket kickbacks. And now it seems that indeed the US will come to the rescue with equipment and foam.

Meanwhile, the toxic smoke - don't believe them when they say all's well; this smoke is dangerous - is concentrating in Panama's banking district, La Prensa reports.

Why would that be? Simple. Toxic smoke is attracted by toxic assets. At the moment of writing, worried and angry depositors are attending a meeting about the liquidation of COACECSS, the credit union of the social security workers. Regulators had intervened in June last year because of irregularities, notably money missing and payments of exorbitant commissions.

That is, certificates of deposit from COACECSS were being sold by a company headed by Gilbert Straub, a well known financial hustler and Nixon's bagman for the Watergate burglars.

La Prensa quotes a foreign depositor who obviously never read this website:

Un depositante extranjero, hoy jubilado, reporta que vino “a Panamá con la esperanza de tener una vida calmada y pacífica, pero he sido fuertemente decepcionado con la forma en la que se conducen los negocios aquí”.

“Seré muy renuente de iniciar actividades financieras o de negocios en el futuro”, concluyó.

Next to Straub, we had Monte Friesner and Tatiana Nazarova who, through their Pronto Cash company, were going to supply COACECSS with debit cards.

With Straub and Friesner in the mix, what could possibly go wrong? Well, depositors will find out today. Stay tuned.

UPDATE 24/03: Heated meeting yesterday, in which it was announced that COACECSS will be liquidated, a process that will take about 2 years. If depositors will see any of their money back is yet to be determined. Full story in La Prensa. Anyone still vouching for Panama as a "financial center"?

UPDATE (2) 24/03: In the comments you'll find various references to Jon Hanna of Panama Offshore Legal Services, who was apparently acting as an affiliate or agent for COACECSS, finding depositors and then cashing in on those inflated commissions. It's not the first time that we hear about Hanna luring investors into, shall we say, dysfunctional schemes; years ago we were contacted by people whom he tried to convince to invest with a fraud called the Milennium Fund. In that fraud was, next to aforementioned Gilbert Straub, also involved one William Amos - who, just like Jon Hanna, used to work for the Harris Organisation. Needless to say that Hanna has been one of the first and most loyal sponsors of scam pimp Don Winner's Panama Guide.

16 thoughts on “Toxic smoke in Panama banking district

  1. Back in late 2011…I was reccommended to a Jon Hanna, ( By Bobby Casey of Wealth Protection ) who was going to facilitate a meeting with the Credit Union COACECSS , with the possibility of me placing some ‘ retirement funds ” with COACECSS ….boy am I ever glad I didn’t….and who is Jon Hanna ?

  2. This case of another financial sinkhole could be summarized with a single anagram:
    “thanks to COACECSS ~ OK to snatch access.”

  3. Oh, I’m sure all the scam pimps who pushed the CDs in Boquete and elsewhere will personally make good on everyone’s losses. Right? No? Not so much? Well, if not, those who’ve lost money might be able to go after the fraudsters’ assets. Most of them own property. Boquete’s COACECSS con artist does.

  4. On the other subject, the toxic smoke in the banking district, most of the insect (read cockroach) exterminators I know use some form of toxic smoke to exterminate unwanted pests. So, there is a bright side to the damned fire at the dump. The cockroaches in the banking district should all die and the banking district will FINALLY be cleaned up. All of the rotten insects there will die and Panamá may actually have a shot at a legitimate banking system.

  5. Can you believe it? RIGHT NOW the scamsters at Panama Offshore Legal Services are advertising that investors who had funds in COACESS will be reimbursed by the government IF they have an account open in their name in Panama. And guess who wants to facilitate their opening an account in Panama to receive the funds they lost?????

    • Classic. First you lose money in some scheme. Then the schemers want you to send them more money to recover the assets. This happened a lot with all these HYIP scams in Costa Rica too.

    • Look friend, the fees are pretty reasonable…

      $700 to setup your account at COACECSS, sorry no refunds.

      Then there’s the commission. Well you didn’t know about that, but what you don’t know.. well you don’t know!

      Then yet another account for what’s left of your money. Yay another $700! Might have borrowed a little of your dough from the credit union to buy a new yacht, won’t be repaying that of course.

      And when it’s all done you’ll get an amazing “opportunity” to make it all back in the form of a real estate pitch. Half the sale price is the commission, but hey this is Panama. Really it’s ok, because real estate works different here.

  6. Thank goodness COACECSS did not accept money orders. I paid POLS $400 to negociate opening a COACECSS account, then enclosed an International money order for $1000 made out to COACECSS for the initial deposit. They said they could not deal with money orders. (Because there were no routing and checking numbers to steal money from?) POLS never would return the $1000 money order, but I was able to get reimbursed for it. So I only lost $400, and not $1400.

  7. Ernesto Vaughan, the exgerente was just on Telemetro defending himself. He referred to the economic condition of COACECSS as “robusta”. Then when asked about the connection between COACECSS, ProntoCash and Financial Pacific he went into BS improvisation mode. This guy has got an elephant-sized set of brass balls. I wonder how much of COACECSS’s bad loans he funneled into his own pocket…

  8. Pingback: COACECSS liquidation result of dirty campaign, directors say | Bananama Republic

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