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In the middle of a fraud and now murder scandal, Abdalá Bucaram announces his candidacy for President

Published on August 10, 2020

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Former Ecuadorian President,* Abdalá Bucaram announced on Sunday that he will be running as a candidate for President in the 2021 national elections. He did this amid reports of his role in the fraudulent selling of medical supplies to hospitals during the COVID-19 health emergency; his two sons Jacobo Michel and Abdalá ‘Dalo’ have also been implicated in the scheme.

For three hours on Facebook on Sunday, Bucaram accused the government of Lenín Moreno and the Minister of Government, María Paula Romo of promoting a “gigantic state persecution” against he and his family.

“Despite my heart, that I do not want and did not want to do politics, today I feel the need to prevent governments of this type and I launch and accept my candidacy for President of the Republic in the year 2021. We cannot have tyrannical governments that persecute a family,” he said.

If his candidacy is accepted in the National Electoral Council (CNE) , article 108 of the Code of Democracy establishes that he “may not be deprived of liberty or criminally prosecuted from the moment of qualification, until the proclamation of results, except in cases of flagrante delicto, sexual crimes, gender and intra-family violence. Once the results have been announced, criminal proceedings against [him] may be activated. ”

Bucaram is running under the Fuerza Ecuador (FE) party founded by his son, Dalo. FE is authorized to participate in the Presidential, assembly and parliamentary elections that will be held in February 2021.

The ex-president’s announcement was made after an audio of a conversation between him and Tomer Sheinman (Shy Dahan), an Israeli citizen who was murdered in jail on Saturday—where he was being held for his role in the medical marketing scheme—was released. Sheinman was being detained for “illicit association” in the marketing of drugs to hospitals; 15 people are under investigation for the scheme,including brothers Jacobo Michel and Dalo Bucaram.

Telephone call implicates Bucaram in nefarious activities

“I have your word, no one is going to try to kill me, nothing like that,” asks the man, who is identified as Tom. Abdalá Bucaram Ortiz supposedly responds to him: “We have already talked about the word. I keep my word that I get you out in court. It’s complicated here because Vanegas has pressure on the judge and I can’t control the judge, unfortunately.”

Immediately, the voice with a marked foreign accent asks Bucaram where the trail will be. He’s told, Guayaquil. “But that court we are going to handle, with the Judiciary Council, we handle it, that’s something else now …,” he says.

The dialogue is part of a 7-minute 42-second audio that the was released on Sunday and went viral on social media. This conversation corresponds to a telephone dialogue between former President Abdalá Bucaram Ortiz and Tomer Sheinman (Shy Dahan), the Israeli citizen who was murdered at dawn last Saturday in the consular ward of the Guayaquil penitentiary.

The Prosecutor’s Office is investigating Sheinman’s murder and also the attack on Sheinman’s alleged partner in the medical fraud case, Oren Sheinman, that happened at the same time.

The Sheinmans were on trial in Santa Elenafor “private illicit enrichment” They were arrested with fake identity documents and false US Drug Enforcement Agency credentials. In their statements, the Israelis cited Jacobo Bucaram, who allegedly bought the adulterated medicine from them for $300,000.

When the death of Tomer Sheinman was made public, Bucaram Ortiz and his son Jacobo began a strong defense on social networks.

The former president was the most intense. In one of his tweets, he admitted to having spoken with the murdered Israeli. “One of the Israelites told me that they wanted to kill him, and he told me if it was not us, I told him that it was the Government, to involve my family. That never in life that was our way, we live in a state terrorism … My family is in danger, in danger … Help, FF. AA.”

In telephone audio that was released Saturday, Bucaram begins by assuring Sheinman, “On Monday I will try to get the lawyer Walter Vallejo to enter to be your lawyer. And I’m going to try to get those people to introduce themselves …”

“Look, we are going to try to put the things that go wrong together. We’re going to bring in the lawyer on Monday to go to you … They’re going to take you to a hearing and then to court. In that court is where we can act.”

Toward the end of the audio, Bucaram says to Sheinman, “Understand, you are intelligent, understand. You give me your hand; I give you [my] hand….”

Two layers only thicken the plot

Héctor Gabriel Vanegas, Oren Sheinman’s lawyer,explained that his client is in a hospital recovering from the attack. “We have always maintained [that there is] a direct relationship between the people linked to the case, with the murder. I do not want to make value judgments, [that is] for the authorities to determine it. My client was attacked with sharp weapons such as knives. The deceased was attacked with a blunt object.”

Vanegas discussed what happened in court on Friday, the day before the murder of Sheinman. “He (Oren) fears for his life. The evidence on Friday proved all the transactions with names, places and corroborated the statements that the Israelis indicated in previous days (that they negotiated the medicine purchases with Jacobo Bucaram), only one of the two telephone numbers in Criminalistics was reviewed. Now, that information needs to be prosecuted for the investigation,”said Vanegas.

“Right after this [evidence was presented] the attack happened, so we think it was in retaliation to this information presented. The next testimony was scheduled for this coming Thursday, but situations change……. My client is in a state of shock and we have told him that we are going to clarify this assassination attempt, a new process that is being opened in the case,”the lawyer explained.

Meanwhile, the lawyer Walter Vallejo—mentioned by Abdalá Bucaram Ortiz in the call as being the person who was going to defend Tomer Sheinman—admitted that he visited the Israelis on Monday, August 3, the day on which they received a document asking them to take advantage of the protected witness program.

“They, in my presence, said that they did not take part in the program … They told me to leave them the power of attorney to be their lawyer, that they were going to analyze it. The one who was murdered told me that he had no problem, but that his other friend preferred that he explain to him in the cell so that he could sign, that they would send it to me. I gave them the document, but they never sent it to me; that is, I am not his lawyer,”he explained.

*Abdalá Bucaram served as Ecuador’s President from August 10, 1996 to February 6, 1997. Within months of taking office, Bucaram was accused of embezzling millions of dollars of public funds. He was removed from office after being declared mentally unfit to rule by the National Congress of Ecuador in February 1997.

Bucaram was in asylum in Panama for 20 years, due to a charge of embezzlement in the so-called “School Backpack and Reserved Expenses” cases. He left Ecuador in 1997 and returned in 2017, when the legal case against him was dropped.

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