Sunday, October 12, 2008

Legal Battles Tie Up Money Left for Poor Children in Panama

June 25, 2008

Legal Battles Tie Up Money Left for Poor Children in Panama

A gift of tens of millions of dollars to a foundation to help needy children in Panama has been tied up in disputes involving over 20 law firms, the Panamanian courts, and the donor’s surviving family, reports The New York Times. The donation — from the will of Wilson C. Lucom, who died two years ago at the age of 88 — is the bulk of his estate.

“This is all about greed,” said Hector Avila, an advocate for needy children in Panama, who survived a shooting within a week of a protest he led in May to push the court to honor Mr. Lucom’s gift.

Panamanian courts have so far expressed support for the will, but critics remain wary of potential corruption. “If you ask me if I expect to win in light of all the corruption I’ve seen, I don’t expect to win it,” said Richard S. Lehman, a longtime lawyer to Mr. Lucom who is now caught in the middle of the battle and who has been suspended by a Panamanian judge as the executor of the will.

Mr. Lucom’s widow, Hilda Lucom, 84, who received a $20,000 monthly pension and the use of his artwork and furniture, is fighting for his will to be dismissed. “He never talked to me about poor children,” said Ms. Lucom, who added in a court deposition, “He didn’t like children.”

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  1. This case is real and happening right now — it’s so hard to believe that the last Will of anyone can be overlooked and turn into such a nightmare. We can only pray that good will prevail over evil. I say hang in there Mr. Lehman! Remember . . .doing the right thing may not always be the most popular — but I pray for your success in this case. Read the 500 page legal exhibit presented to the jury in this case. The panama corruption is obvious.

    All Americans should be watching this case.

    — Mary Daultry Jun 26, 08:54 AM #

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