Richard Fifer’s embezzlement scheme

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Richard Fifer (left), Martín Torrijos and a PTQ spokesman at the presidential palace

After his drug dealing conviction we wrote about earlier, Inca Kola News came out today with the next document leaked from the inner hallways of Petaquilla, the disaster ridden goldmine headed by Richard Fifer.

The document is a court decision ordering Fifer to pay back $475,000 he, ummm, misplaced, so to speak. What happened?

What happened was that Mr. Fifer had this company, called Minamerica. And in 1994 that company had a cash flow problem. To solve that cash shortage, he asked for and obtained a loan of $400,000 from Inversiones Geologicas, a company owned by one Julio Benedetti.

Fifer then proceeded to clean out Minamerica by having his own company lend the borrowed money to himself. What did he do with it? We don't really know, but suspect it wasn't invested in any mining business but more likely went to party supplies.

So, when Benedetti/Inversiones Geologicas asked for their $400k back, Fifer replied that, unfortunately, Minamerica didn't have any assets to pay back that loan and was, in fact, as good as bankrupt. Benedetti then found out that Fifer had in fact taken that money out of Minamerica for himself, and went to court.

The court then ruled that Fifer had to pay back the money, plus interest, amounting to $475,000.

The case comes on top of earlier revelations about Richard Fifer's business philosophy. Since his drug dealing conviction, Fifer has consistently taken the low road in almost anything he set his eyes upon. His tenure as the governor of the Coclé province resulted in him being charged with having converted $47,000 from the Spanish government for the Arias Madrid Brothers Museum in Penonome for his personal use and that he pilfered some $68,000 from the Cocle provincial government through ghost employees. In those cases, an arrest warrant was issued, Fifer went in hiding, and - get this -  met with investors and president Martín Torrijos at the presidential palace while being a fugitive.

A day after that meeting, some judge ruled the arrest warrant illegal after Fifer had deposited $100k, even though the charges were still pending.

Conclusion? Let's quote Inca Kola News:

FerCryinOutLoud, you must be mad to put your cash to work under the auspices of a scumbag drug dealing fraudster like this. DYODD.

We couldn't have said it any better.

(The court document referred to can be downloaded here)

7 thoughts on “Richard Fifer’s embezzlement scheme

  1. Hispanic law(Panamanian Legal System) are in general loosely written to afford justice to those who can afford to PAY rather than make a justifiable Legal decision for/or to the injured party!

    Panama has a very well written and fair Constitution, if it were to be used as intended!

    Panama has some very fair, truthful, and useful laws if they were only enforced, applied legally, and fairly to every one!

    The Panamanian Courts are overly bias towards those who are Rich, associated, and connected!

    The Panamanian Legal System is for the pure and exclusive benefit of those who Can afford to pay for their own form of unequal Justice, which benefit themselves, their associates, and the members of the Panamanian legal system monetarily !

    Complete misuse of the Panamanian Constitution is very consistent, highly unethical in manner, consistently without any form of moral oversight or legal ethical conviction!

    The whole legal system here in Panama only benefits those Parties which can pay, which affords the highest fees to this Panamanian Government and it’s associates!

    So, pay tell, state again how this Panamanian Legal System which constantly stomps on and trashes it own Constitution and laws can really afford these Surpreme court rulings, which are general loosely written to which they never afford justice under the Panamanian Legal System, Constitution, and Panamanian laws?

    Apply stated “Here in Panama, the Surpreme court rulings are tradition in acceptance without proper understanding of legal proceedures and laws – it works very well.”

    Yes, traditionally the Panamanian Surpreme court rulings are in acceptance without proper and Sane use of Panamanian and International laws as written, when used to avoid the law and it consequences which in any moral ethical society would not be tolerated period!

    “Panama where the numbers never add up”

  2. Over the years I spent doing business in Panama I came to despise the average Panamanian for many reasons. ( I have since shed much of my rancour.) But first and foremost; almost everyone seemed to be willing to cheat everyone else.

    Perhaps the most poignant example for me was when my lawyer’s father, also a lawyer, could not be trusted to deliver a $30 payment to his own son, who he proudly professed, was also his best friend. He simply pocketed the money and claimed he hadn’t received it, promptly recanting when confronted with the receipt. The son was angry for a moment, then smiled a sly smile as the love had returned. But the bone-chilling detail of this event was the fact that the father and son are both very wealthy men.

    After departing from the business world my feelings softened and I came to re-accept that which I had believed for most of my life. People are just products of their environment and they adapt to the conditions that they face daily. In Panama one must accept that almost everyone will steal, lie and cheat. Loyalty, family, friendship, justice, are practiced in pantomime while stealing, cheating and lying are the affairs of the day. I steal from you, you steal from me…a communal theft of goods and services replacing, or at least parallel to , the more conventional voluntary exchange of goods and services. Rather than those who produce more efficiently it is those that steal most efficiently that prosper.

    Who could possibly be expected to be honest in Panama? Life goes on and Panama seems to be prospering. People are happy and accept the system.
    It boggles my mind how it all functions.

    Sometimes I feel that they will be alright here. I always believed that without morality, rule of law, and a bare minimum of honest that anarchy would result and society would come tumbling down. Panama seems to prove otherwise. Or perhaps it is just a matter of time.

  3. Faustino, it survives because this system has developed its own set of checks and balances – mostly based on bidding on bribes – to keep itself running. The values, as you say, differ too: Being able to outsmart someone by cheating him is seen as a virtue here. Hence that smile of the lawyer’s son; he recognized the effort with some appreciation. The amount of money doesn’t count. It’s the art of swindling it.

    I vividly remember meeting with a well known lawyer who was being ripped off by another lawyer and his anger about it. It was not the stealing he objected to; everybody steals. But he was furious that the stealing was done without any honor, as he put it. I still don’t fully grasp that concept, but it wasn’t a “clean” steal, apparently, that would merit admiration for a job well done even if one is on the losing end of it.

    This mentality is everywhere. I will NEVER do business in Panama and always advise others considering it to please go somewhere else and stay sane.

  4. @editor…Too funny…the clean steal. You are correct…the smile was one of admiration. I too would not recommend anyone do business here unless it is very small and on a cash basis…selling hotdogs for example.

    Foreign crooks often think that this is a paradise for them also. However they are the first to be sold out and scapegoated when the shit hits the fan. I remember reading that Noriega loved encouraging criminals to operate in Panama only to turn them over to the Gringos when he needed a favour or a break.

  5. Thanks to the editor of this website for providing an outlet for us frustrated foreigners here in Panama. There’s times when I feel like I’m the only one going insane around such backwards people. I have however met very hardworking honest Panamenos, unfortunately very few in the city (mostly campesinos in the interior). This city just seems to breed unethical people. I went through similar circumstances as Faustino, and I definitely would not recommend business in Panama to my worst enemy. Sometimes I feel like I’m completely alone on my opinions of how good Panama could be. I guess its wishful thinking on my part (I’m an idealist). Hopefully things get better here, but based on the actions of the current government, I highly doubt it. But hey I can’t protest or complain in Panama because I’m a foreigner, and my opinion doesn’t count… right Martinelli.

  6. @Jon,
    I think that if one is a retiree, in the interior, with a low profile Panama will work for one. I know many business people who have given up on Panama because of the business culture. Their voices however are drowned out by the relentless promotion. I have come to realize that Panama is a type of Ponzi scheme. Growth is enourmous but the returns only seem to come from further external investment and insane government infrastucture spending that is limited to glamourous items that have little benefit for the average Joe(Jose).
    Good luck and I too hope things get better. But after a decade I stopped having hope. Older Panamanians have told me that the situation of explosive growth occured in the 70´s also but that the juega vivo is the same and will never change.

  7. For amusement try reading Panama’s Labor Law (Codigo de Trabajo). Its a populist “gift” from gen. Omar Torrijos to Panama that give super powers to the workers to squeeze whatever they can from the employers. One of the reasons why most labor in Panama is so lousy. And is the training ground for future crooks and schemers. That’s what happens when you give too much to one side. There is no balance.

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