Thursday, January 22, 2009

Allied charities join Lucom fight

The Sisters of Mercy, the SOS villages, the San Jose de Malambo Orphanage, Nutrehogar, the Ciudad de Niño and the Fundacion Pro Niños de Darien have joined together to form the Fundacion de Apoyo a los Niños Pobres de Panama. This was done in anticipation that Hilda Piza (viuda de Lucom, and before that de Arias) and her children will lose their challenge to the Wilson Lucom will, which is now pending in the Supreme Court. Lucom, a very wealthy man, left millions to his widow but the large residue of his estate to the poor children of Panama. Piza and especially her children by a previous marriage --- most notably Gilberto Arias of EPASA, the company that owns La Critica and El Panama America --- have challenged the will and, largely through attorney Héctor Infante, have fought vicious legal battles in Panama and the United States. These have concentrated on Richard Lehman, the Florida attorney appointed by Lucom as his will's executor, against whom bogus murder charges were brought, groundless arrest warrants were issued and an arrest order on a warrant that didn't exist was put into INTERPOL's international database. The case has become an emblem of corruption with impunity in the Panamanian legal system. The Supreme Court recently slapped down a detention order that Infante obtained against Lehman and the contest on the will itself is now pending before the court. The creation of the charitable alliance distances Lehman from the controversy, as the Piza / Arias family is basing their challenge on the supposition that he's a crook who's out to loot the fortune. Now it would be the charities rather than Lehman in charge of how the bequest is spent. Sister Lourdes Reiss of the San Jose de Malambo Orphanage heads the new foundation and has expressed confidence to the competitors of the Arias family's newspapers that the Lucom bequest will be upheld in court.

Volume 15, Number 1 January 22, 2009
Full text in http://www.thepanama/

The charity is called FUNDACION DE APOYO A LOS NIÑOS POBRES DE PANAMA. Its Foundation Council is formed by:

Orfelinato San Jose de Malambo
Asociacion Religiosos Mercedarios
Fundacion Pro-Niños del Darien
Asociacion de Aldeas Infantiles SOS de Panama
Asociacion Nacional Pro Nutricion Infantil
Patronato de la Ciudad del Niño

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