Brooklyn Court Judge Raymond J. Dearie will announce this Friday the condemns Luis Enrique and Ricardo Martinelli, sons of former Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli, accused of laundering money received from the Brazilian multinational Odebrechta crime for which the prosecution asks for 9 to 11 years in prison for each one.
(Read: Former Panamanian President Martinelli is acquitted of alleged illegal espionage)
Extradited to the United States at the end of last year, the Martinelli brothers – 40 and 42 years old respectively – had pleaded guilty before the US justice system to the crime of conspiring to launder money.
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The prosecution asks for between 9 and 11 years in prison for each of the brothers, accused of laundering “28 million dollars” from bribes from the Brazilian multinational that passed through the financial scaffolding of hidden accounts in the name of ghost companies that they erected to hide the loot
Of that total, “19 million passed through accounts in the United States”, some located in New York, according to the prosecution. This amount does not include another 30 million dollars that would have transited through other accounts in euros to avoid the US financial system, according to the prosecution.
Likewise, the prosecution assures in its accusation that the Martinelli brothers, in addition to benefiting from the payments of the Brazilian in exchange for obtaining the execution of public works, “facilitated the payment of bribes by Odebrecht to the Panamanian government official”, alluding to the father Ricardo Martinelli, who governed Panama between 2009 and 2014.
According to the prosecution, the brothers “believed they were above the law” and operated “with impunity” due to “the protection provided” by the position then held by their father, although his name is not mentioned in the documents.
Likewise, Brooklyn federal prosecutor Breon Peace hopes that the judge’s sentence “sends a strong message to public officials and their families, who seek to sell their country and its public resources to the highest bidder in exchange for wealth and personal luxury.”
The luxuries of the Martinelli family
According to the prosecution, the Martinellis invested 9.5 million of the money they received from Odebrecht in a cell phone service company in Panama, as well as in shares and debt.
Likewise, Luis Enrique Martinelli bought a $1.7 million yacht and a $1.3 million Miami condo, while his brother paid “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in his credit card bills at American Express.
Despite pleading guilty, the judges denied them bail, so both have been imprisoned in the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center, in conditions of practical “isolation” according to their lawyers.
Martinelli brothers case. “The Government points out that a Minister of Health in Panama, due to their wealth and influence, cooperated to give them a permit… to enter Panama,” Abel Arcia, former New York prosecutor.#TReport pic.twitter.com/OwfOZRUAG1
— Telemeter Reports (@TReporta) May 20, 2022
After Marcelo Odebrecht, the president of the multinational, pleaded guilty in 2018, the Martinelli brothers began to negotiate their judicial future with the American justice system, but on June 25, 2020, they fled the United States by boat to the Bahamas without notifying the The authorities.
From there they boarded a private plane to travel to Panama, with such bad luck that the country was closed due to covid-19 and they had to land first in Costa Rica and then in El Salvador, from where they crossed overland to Guatemala.
They were arrested on July 6, 2020 in Guatemala when they made a layover on a private flight that intended to take them to Panama. Luis Enrique Martinelli was extradited to the United States on November 15, 2021. His brother would arrive on December 10.
On December 21, 2016, Odebrecht pleaded guilty before the Brooklyn court to having distributed more than 788 million dollars in bribes to government officials, officials and political parties, mainly in Latin America, mainly to obtain and retain infrastructure works.
Odebrecht and the petrochemical subsidiary Braskem, whose former director José Carlos Grubisich was also sentenced by the New York justice to 20 months in prison last October, agreed to pay 3.5 billion dollars in fines.
The Brazilian holding extended its tentacles in the industry, engineering, construction, infrastructure, energy, chemicals, services and real estate sectors.
Last December, Panama requested from the United States the money that the Martinelli brothers admitted having received from Odebrecht considering themselves “victims of crime”.
The Martinelli brothers are also required by the Panamanian justice for a corruption scandal also related to bribes in exchange for works, known as “Blue Apple”.
Former President Martinelli himself (2009-2014) is under investigation in the Odebrecht scandal. Despite this, he has announced his intention to seek re-election in 2024.
*With information from AFP
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