January 21, 2022

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Ex-Panama President’s Sons Are Extradited to U.S. After Multicountry Chase

Ex-Panama President’s Sons Are Extradited to U.S. After Multicountry Chase

A Brooklyn courtroom plans to arraign the son of a former Panamanian president on money-laundering fees on Saturday, the results of an extradition case that in keeping with prosecutors featured a stealth getaway to the Bahamas, faux diplomatic credentials and a personal jet idling on a tarmac in Guatemala.

The defendant, Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares, was captured in Guatemala last year together with his brother and indicted in February. He was extradited to the USA on Friday and can face fees in U.S. District Court docket in Brooklyn, prosecutors say.

The instances towards Mr. Martinelli Linares and his brother are linked to the U.S. authorities’s bigger investigation into Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction conglomerate that prosecutors say paid nearly $800 million in bribes to officers and political events in a number of international locations. In 2016, Odebrecht and its affiliated petrochemical agency, Braskem, pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges within the Jap District courtroom and agreed to pay at the very least $3.5 billion in penalties.

The opposite Martinelli brother, Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares, 39, was extradited to the United States final month and pleaded guilty on the Jap District courtroom final week to laundering $28 million as a part of the Odebrecht scheme. He might serve as much as 20 years in jail.

The brothers’ father, Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Berrocal, 69, governed Panama from 2009 till 2014 and has stated he might run for president there once more in 2024. 4 years after leaving workplace, he was extradited from the United States to Panama to face fees associated to an unlawful wiretapping scheme that prosecutors stated he had performed whereas in workplace. A Panamanian courtroom absolved him of those charges last month.

Federal prosecutors stated in a letter to an Jap District decide late Friday that Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares had been indicted on fees of conspiracy to launder tens of thousands and thousands of {dollars} in bribes “on behalf of an in depth relative who was a high-ranking authorities official in Panama” from 2009 till 2014. Prosecutors have used related language in his brother’s case.

The letter on Friday didn’t point out the previous president by title.

American prosecutors have accused the Martinelli brothers, who’re residents of each Panama and Italy, of hiding proceeds from the Odebrecht scheme partly via monetary transactions made via U.S. banks, a few of them in New York. The Panamanian authorities has additionally sought them over involvement within the scheme.

For years after Odebrecht’s responsible plea in 2016, U.S. prosecutors say, the Martinelli brothers met with American officers to debate the case, and ultimately the logistics of potential plea offers.

However in June 2020, the brothers left for the Bahamas, touring by an “unknown vessel” and evading United States border controls, prosecutors stated of their letter on Friday.

Within the Bahamas, the brothers, together with Mr. Luis Martinelli Linares’s spouse and kids, boarded a personal airplane and flew to Panama, prosecutors stated. However the plane was turned away due to pandemic-related journey restrictions, so that they flew on to Costa Rica after which El Salvador — simply because the federal Jap District courtroom was issuing warrants for his or her arrest.

The brothers then traveled by Uber from El Salvador’s capital, San Salvador, to the Guatemala border, prosecutors stated. On the time, Guatemala was not permitting guests, however the brothers had been capable of slip in by falsely representing themselves as officers of the Central American Parliament.

The brothers later obtained emergency humanitarian authorization from Panama’s well being minister to enter the nation, prosecutors stated. However on or round July 6, they had been arrested at an airport in Guatemala Metropolis as they tried to board the household’s non-public jet and fly to Panama.

Representatives for the Martinelli brothers couldn’t be reached for remark late Friday.

Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares, who was extradited to the USA final month and pleaded responsible on cash laundering fees final week, is in detention whereas he awaits sentencing in Could 2022, prosecutors say.

Of their letter on Friday to Choose Robert M. Levy, a staff of prosecutors led by Breon S. Peace, the U.S. lawyer for Jap District of New York, described Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares as “a considerable and confirmed flight danger.”

“Given Ricardo Martinelli Linares’s actions over the previous a number of years, it’s clear that he’ll do something to keep away from prosecution in the USA and return to Panama, even regardless of the separate legal fees pending towards him in that nation,” the prosecutors stated.

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