The Manuel Noriega Connection to the Family Behind the Melgen-Menendez Dominican Port Security Deal
When Belinda Galvan Beauchamp, widow of Juan Rene Beauchamp, the former head of the Dominican Armed Forces assassinated in 2000, signed the now infamous and controversial "Melgen-Menendez" Dominican port security deal in 2002 on behalf of ICSSI, her newly formed company with few assets and no port security experience, Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega had been in an American prison for a decade.
But the Beauchamp family had deep ties to Noriega that extended back to the 1960s and 1970s, when both Noriega and Beauchamp were ambitious junior military officers in their respective countries. According to a December 27, 2000 report in EFE News Services, "Dominican Gen. Juan Rene Beauchamp Javier, the former head of the Dominican armed forces gunned down Tuesday by unknown assassins, was a close friend of former Panamanian strongman Manuel Antonio Noriega and had served as ambassador to Argentina."
Beauchamp's son, Jean Rene Beauchamp, married Noriega's daughter, Sandra Noriega, in 1987, at the height of Noriega's six year reign as Panama's military dictator. The two subsequently divorced. It is not clear if the divorce took place before or after the Beachamp family's newly formed ICSSI company secured the Dominican port security deal in 2002.
When Noriega was deposed during the American invasion of Panama in 1989, his wife and two of his sons fled to the Dominican Republic, where they lived with General Beauchamp and his family for a period of time. Noriega's daughter Sandra was apparently already living in the Dominican with her husband, Beauchamp's son.
Noriega was convicted in an American court in 1992 of drug trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering. He was released from an American prison to French custody in 2007, where he was convicted of additional charges money laundering and drug trafficking. In December, 2011, he was returned to Panamanian custody, where he is in prison awaiting murder charges.
One Dominican publication, La Nacion Dominicana, claimed in a March 2012 report that sources told their reporters Noriega may have played a role, either as a direct or indirect investor, in the dubious 2002 port deal through his former son-in-law, Jean Rene Beauchamp Galvan.
That same month, another Dominican publication, Diario Libre, reported on a different, though possibly related, Panamanian connection. There were concerns, the article said, that the 2002 ICSSI port security contract may have actually been originally intended for a Panamanian registered company, International Container and Security System (ICSS), a distinct company from Beauchamp's ICSSI. Those concerns, along with the non-competitive bidding associated with the granting of the contract and the exorbitant fees granted ICSSI, prompted the Dominican Customs Department to file a suit in 2004 in the Dominican courts to invalidate the contract. That lawsuit remains in litigation nine years later:
One of the reasons the current Customs Director mistrusts the [2002 ICSSI] contract for the installation of the x-ray equipment is the fact that the company has changed ownership.
The incomplete memories of Soto Jimenez mention problems among the partners and this is a lawsuit between the Beauchamps family and the International Container Security System (ICSS) which was represented by the late Salomon Sanz and that was being heard in a court in the United States for alleged fraud.
In May 2003, a national newspaper reported that a letter had been written by the director of the Specialized Corps of Port Security (SESEP) to Sanz regarding the authorization for the installation of the x-ray services for ICSS, since he was the president and representative in the country. But the company (or a different one with the initials ICSSI, S.A.) changed ownership to the widow Beauchamps and her son Jean Beauchamps, who are the persons who finally signed the contract.
In August, 2011, Dr. Salomon Melgen purchased a controlling interest from the Beauchamp family in ICSSI, and with that purchase came the rights to the disputed 2002 port security contract with the Dominican government.