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What's Next for Richardo Martinelli and His Family

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Ex-president i facing justice  intimidation challenge


Ricardo Martinelli

Posted 03/08/2020

Ex-president Ricardo Martinelli  under stress as his sons face extradition  to the US to face money laundering charges  related to Odebrecht  with the possibility  of  his being embroiled now  faces a new legal battle over his alleged attempts to  intimidate judges and prosecutors

A complaint was filed with the Public Ministry last week for the alleged commission of crimes against the administration of justice and advocacy of crime.

The complaint alleges  that Martinelli exerted pressure against prosecutors, officials and former officials of the justice administration, "in order to prevent them from fulfilling their functions."

The legal action, presented by lawyer Enrique De Gracia Lezcano, maintains that it is a public and well-known fact that the former president has been threatening, intimidating, denouncing, filing complaints and promoting kidnapping actions against prosecutors, judges and magistrates who have intervened or participate in investigations and judicial processes in which he has been immersed due to actions taken during his presidential term.

De Gracia specifies that the actions taken by Martinelli are framed in article 388 of the Judicial Code, which typifies the crime against the administration of justice.

It details that the norm states that this crime will be incurred “by anyone who, by use of physical force, threatens, intimidation or the promise of offering or granting undue benefit, obstructs or prevents the fulfillment of the official functions of an official of the Public Ministry or the Judicial Branch ”.

The complaint details that the threats and intimidation had materialized with "the illegitimate use of legal actions and statements that have been exposed to national and international public opinion."

The targets
The  actions have reached the ex- Supreme Court  judges Harry Díaz and Jerónimo Mejía, who were part of the process that was followed by Martinelli and which became known as the puncture case. Díaz as prosecutor and Mejía, as judge of guarantees. He also did it against the former attorney general Kenia Porcell

He has targeted Senior Anti-Corruption Prosecutor Tania Sterling, who is investigating him for the Odebrecht bribery scandal.

His actions, also include  officials from the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences who have evaluated him psychiatrically  and physically  at the request of prosecutors.

The complaint  says  that Martinelli warned prosecutors not to use a note from the United States Department of Justice, through which the Counselor of the Office of Legal Affairs Thomas Heinemann, assures that the specialty principle does not apply.

Martinelli said that "the prosecutor who thinks of using the letter will face legal repercussions."

According to De Gracia's complaint, the actions of the former president executed against officials in charge of administering justice are clearly fraudulent, as they are aimed at causing fear to judges, prosecutors, and even administrative support personnel with the intention that they do not comply with their functions.

Roniel Ortiz, from  the Martinelli pack  of lawyers, alleges that the complaint filed against his client is meaningless, since all the legal actions taken by the former president against prosecutors, former magistrates and others are based on regulations contained in the Judicial Code.



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Swiss media report fingers Martinellis in bribery expose


Ricardo Martinelli and sons named in report

Posted 04/08/2020

Panama is one of the emerging countries of Central America. Since 2010, the country has registered economic growth between 3.7% and 11.3%. Skyscrapers now dominate the skyline of the capital city on the Pacific coast says an article published in Tages-Anzeiger, in Zurich, Switzerland

But that rapid growth has its counterpart. The existing infrastructure was unable to keep up. To prevent the imminent collapse of traffic, Panama invested in a new subway: the construction of the first two lines of the Metro cost 3.3 billion euros. Construction started in 2010, and the second section was opened in April of last year.

The billionaire contract was awarded to the Spanish construction company Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas (FCC) , the Brazilian group Odebrecht and the French Alstom Group, which also operates in Switzerland with its transport division.

According to documents to which the newspaper SonntagsZeitung had access: 82 million euros were paid in bribes, through a Swiss bank, to obtain the contract. This is the result of the ruling of the Federal Criminal Court, in mid-May.

According to the decision, the financial intermediary involved refuses to release the information from Swiss bank accounts to prosecutors in Madrid. The judge in Bellinzona, however, ruled that it was up to the judge in Spain to decide whether the documents show a relevant criminal connection.

The corruption scandal over the construction of the Metro has been widely reported in the Spanish media, but so far, the case has gone unnoticed in Switzerland. The construction company FCC is following an offensive in its information policy towards the Spanish newspaper El País , and also towards the prosecutor investigating the case. The company, which most recently had a turnover of 5.5 billion euros, does not deny the corruption charge.

But, the company, which has its headquarters in Barcelona, turned the table and claims that it has been a victim. Mauricio Cort , a Panama City attorney, and consultant, who was hired by the FCC, is responsible for the illegal corrupt payments. His mission: to support the company in its proposal for the billionaire contract.

According to an internal investigation, it turned out that Cort has sent the company 38 invoices for a total of 82 million euros, for which, however, there was no work done..

The flow
To disguise the flow of bribes, Swiss money was channeled by Banca Privada d'Andorra, in the small state of the same name. From there, they were sent to officials in Panama.

The investigation in Andorra revealed that the accounts were not only used to pay the Metro bribes, but for other FCC contracts in Latin American countries, Cort transferred a total of 434 million euros to Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Costa Rica.

The money also flowed like this in the case of corruption of the Panama Metro and reached the accounts of decision makers in the allocation of contracts.

According to statements by an FCC representative to the Madrid prosecutors office, part of the bribe money went to a former president of the country. Ricardo Martinelli , who governed from 2009 to 2014, ana is already being investigated for corruption in another case.

According to Panamanian media, the children of Martinelli, Ricardo and Luis Enrique , also benefited from bribes. Several million were deposited with Pictet and Lombard Odier , a Geneva-based bank, and in an account with the private bank Notenstein La Roche, which was later integrated into the Vontobel Group.

The bribes were allegedly paid by the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht. To hide the origin of the funds, the accounts were opened by companies based in the Bahamas.

In fact, the processes now conducted by the Spanish prosecution are part of an investigation into Rodrigo Tacla , a former lawyer for the Odebrecht company. Investigators who followed the money in this case almost always ended up in Swiss private banks.

Bribes paid by Odebrecht have been a matter of concern for the Swiss Attorney General's Office since 2015, when it initiated proceedings against the company, for money laundering and bribery payments. In the course of the investigation, another 60 criminal investigations were initiated and 620 million Swiss francs were frozen.

The Swiss Attorney General's office also acted against two banks: the PKB Privatbank , in Ticino, and J. Safra Sarasin . J. Safra Sarasin recently confirmed that the Swiss Attorney General's Office opened an investigation against him. The financial institution is accused of organizational deficiencies. The entity failed to prevent bribery of foreign public officials and to avoid money laundering.

Investigations are ongoing, but for officials at the bank, this is a matter of the past. At a press conference held by J. Safra Sarasin March, Jürg Haller , chairman of the board, said: “these are inherited responsibilities, "today we have compliance risks under control."



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Lawyers fire back at Martinelli’s “disgusting” intimidations


Posted 04/08/2020

Prominent  Panama lawyers  are speaking out in support of a denunciation of former president Ricardo for the alleged crimes of intimidation of public servants and advocacy of crime.

The legal action was filed by Lezcano Enrique de Gracia while lawyers, like Guido Rodríguez, former Accounts Attorney; Alvin Weeden former comptroller; Ernesto Cedeño and Carlos Herrera Morán consider Martinelli has abused the justice administration system by denouncing and filing complaints against officials and former officials.

They regard the criminal complaint filed by the lawyer Enrique De Gracia Lezcano against the former president as fully justified.

In their opinion, he has abused the justice administration system not only by complaining against officials and former officials but by threatening them with the kidnapping of their assets.

For example, former Accounts Prosecutor Guido Rodríguez considered that the Public Ministry (MP) could even have proceeded ex officio in defense and shielding the actions of judicial officials.

Doctors  attacked
“Clearly, the conduct described in article 388 –of the Penal Code– is typified with the alleged abusive use of the system of administration of justice, even against practicing officials who may have to participate in proceedings in the processes in which it is involved. the plaintiff as indeed occurs with the two doctors from the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences (Imelcf) who have been plaintiffs. What is sought, without any doubt, is to try to intimidate them, "he said.

For former Comptroller Alvin Weden, the complaint against the former president is perfectly in line with his actions, as he repeatedly threatens officials of the Public Ministry, which is criminalized in the Penal Code.

“He has gone so far as to sue forensic doctors for doing their duty. This is unusual for someone to sue doctors who have given technical opinions about his mental ability to cope with the processes, "he added.

"It is incredible that he has that attitude and uses ill-gotten money to keep the authorities on edge, threatening them with the kidnapping of their assets and more," said the former controller.

Ernesto Cedeño said that in this context, the prosecutors and judges play a very important role since it is they who must promote a process if they feel intimidated and for a process of this nature to prosper, it must be presented before the competent authority by the legal representative of the Public Ministry or the Judicial Branch and these, in his opinion, seem to be blind, deaf and dumb.

"Right now, what is happening is that these corrupt politicians are suing judges, prosecutors, ex-prosecutors, ex-magistrates and lawyers and practically put them on the street, because their assets are kidnapped and that is a disgusting and abusive practice," he said.

Criminal lawyer Carlos Herrera Morán argues that it is a public and notorious fact that Martinelli has been threatening, intimidating, denouncing, prosecuting and promoting kidnapping actions against prosecutors, judges and magistrates who have intervened or participate in investigations and judicial processes in which they have been immersed due to actions carried out in his government.



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US has “consequences” for corrupt  individuals  - State Department


Ricardo Martinelli

Posted 06/08/2020

"We don’t say that we are not going to negotiate with a government if it has some corruption, but there are consequences for corrupt individuals. Visas can be denied to them and their families, or we can impose sanctions," said, Michael Kozak, US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.in In a wide-ranging  interview with Radio Panama on Thursday he touched on corruption, the extradition from Guatemala  of the brothers Luis Enrique and Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares, their father’s attempt to use   a 1904  treaty to avoid trial in Panama after being extradited from Miami

For Kozak, the biggest drawback for a robust economy is corruption.

Although he did not want to speculate on the outcome of the Martinelli Linares brothers' extradition request,  he said that in the United States extradition requests are initiated by the Department of Justice and there are US authorities who work with the authorities of other countries to carry out the process. "It is an issue that is underway."

The Martinelli Linares brothers are detained in Guatemala following an extradition request by the United States to face a criminal complaint filed by a federal court in Brooklyn, New York, in which where the Martinelli Linares, sons of former president Ricardo Martinelli (2009 - 2014),  they are accused of alleged participation in massive bribery and money laundering scheme. money involving the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.

As for the principle of specialty that Martinelli uses to avoid being investigated in cases like Odebrecht and New Business, Kozak said that Panama is free to bring him to trial without obtaining an exemption from that rule.

“Under our interpretation, you do not need anything from us to be able to take action, it is a matter of Panamanian law. If the judicial authorities of Panama have something they want to do with Mr. Martinelli, they can do it, if they choose not to do it, that is their choice and it has nothing to do with the United States, ”he stressed.

He said that the repercussions of the Odebrecht case for the region were of enormous consequences due to a large amount of money and the linked high-level officials.

He reiterated that in the United States, the law against corrupt practices abroad was passed in the 1970s, which makes it illegal for any American company to pay bribes or engage in this type of activity.

 Venezuela, he continues to be a problem for the entire region. "This is a dictatorship that has illegally seized power, has destroyed the country's economy, has destroyed all the people's systems and services, the result has been that millions of Venezuelans have fled to neighboring countries and a huge  Humanitarian problem has been created.



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Trap closing on Martinelli as US says Panama can prosecute


Michael Kozak

Posted 06/08/2020

Former President Ricardo Martinelli facing a  dozen criminal investigations ranging from bribery to money laundering has repeatedly invoked the principle of specialty contemplated in the extradition treaty between Panama and the United States, as a reason for not being prosecuted in Panama.

On Tuesday, August 4he went to the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office investigating Odebrecht's bribes and refused to be investigated, because he says he has not "renounced" the principle.

But on Thursday Michael Kozak, acting undersecretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs in the United States once again slammed the door to  Martinelli’s escape route.

In a Radio  Panama interview with journalist Edwin Cabrera, Kozak said that "Panama is free to take him to trial, without obtaining an exception of that rule ”.

“Under our interpretation, you don't need anything from us in order to take action. It is now a matter of Panamanian law. If the authorities want to do something about Mr. Martinelli, they can. If they choose not to, that was their choice and it has nothing to do with the United States, ”Kozak said in the interview, broadcast on Radio Panama.

The principle of specialty, contemplated in the bilateral treaty of 1904, refers to the fact that an individual can only be prosecuted for the cause for which he was requested in extradition. In the case of Martinelli, it would be due to the illegal wiretapping case, for which he was declared "not guilty" a year ago, by a court of three judges (the sentence is under appeal).

 Last December, the US State Department warned that Martinelli has traveled abroad since September 2019, which is one of the grounds for an exception to the specialty principle.

"The position of the State Department has not changed ... What happens from now on depends on Panama," Kozak said.

Martinelli invokes the  principle to avoid being investigated in several cases of alleged money laundering, such as that of Odebrecht and New Business, the latter, about the alleged use of public funds for the purchase of the  publishing group that produces Panama America and  La Critica



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Frontal attack on officials investigating ex-president


Eduardo Ulloa switched team players

Posted 06/08/2020

While Switzerland and the United States continue to move forward with  multi-billion dollar Odebrecht bribery  investigations Panama’s  key anti-corruption prosecutor  is facing a frontal attack  says lawyer and columnist Rodrigo Noriega in a La Prensa analysis

The Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office, main prosecutor, Tania Sterling,  has been in charge of tracing the network of shell companies and bank accounts that shaped the heart of the criminal cause, and in June ordered the investigation in June. past of former President Ricardo Martinelli. Weeks earlier, the prosecutor Zuleyka Moore was removed from the case by the new   Attorney General, Eduardo Ulloa.

A barrage of legal actions against Sterling left the investigation of the supermarket magnate in the hands of the recently arrived prosecutor Azucena Aizpurúa.

The prosecution of crimes is a complicated activity that requires specialization and, a lot of experience in the subject. Investigating livestock thefts is not the same as identity theft or another computer crime. Nor are common crimes interchangeable with sophisticated money laundering operations says, Noriega.

Most Complex
The Odebrecht case is the most complex investigation ever carried out by the Public Ministry. It includes tracking transactions in multiple jurisdictions, and therefore a translation of documents from  Portuguese, English, German, and possibly other languages. The number of defendants, witnesses, and experts, together with the documents that must be analyzed, requires a clear understanding of the case and its evolution.

While the Odebrecht case in Panama has had many setbacks,  on July 27 by the assistant prosecutor Julia Nestor, from the Federal Prosecutor's Office for the Eastern District of New York, states that the investigation involving the brothers Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares and 12 other people required the cooperation of four jurisdictions and three years to compile documents and testimonies.

Panama’s  Special Anti-Corruption team was originally designed as an office with multiple heads, among which were the best known: Tania Sterling, Zuleyka Moore, Ruth Morcillo, and Vielka Broce.

Although Prosecutor Broce previously retired, the team received a hock when in February, the new Attorney General, incorporated two rookies into the Special Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office: Anilú Batista and Azucena Aizpurúa. A few months later, in the midst of the pandemic, Attorney Ulloa made a rotation, removing Prosecutor Moore from the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office, and Prosecutor Aurelio Vásquez, who was in charge of the investigations in the so-called Blue Apple cases and the from the wiretapping case and he was transferred to a family prosecutor's office.

In the Blue Apple case, a scheme the collection of surcharges and laundering of bribes very similar to that of the Odebrecht was used. The wiretapping case is pending two appeals for annulment and the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court of could well scrutinize the judgment of the Trial Court of August 26, 2019, who declared Ricardo Martinelli "not guilty". Without the prosecutor Vásquez, both cases are weakened.

On June 30, Sterling ordered the investigation of former Martinelli for alleged money laundering related to the Odebrecht case. Sterling, a well-known jurist within the Public Prosecutor's Office, was attacked on social networks and was the subject of multiple legal actions: Two criminal complaints claiming $10 million in damages; two challenges before the Twelfth Criminal Circuit Court, for not knowing the ex-president's medical incapacity and for having participated in the preparation of his extradition from the United States. A complaint was filed with Ulloa against Sterling, and an unconstitutionality warning was filed against her performance, alleging that Martinellis is protected by the principle of specialty.

In the mixed inquisitorial system, under which the Odebrecht case is developed, the challenges must be resolved by the court hearing the case, that is, the Twelfth Criminal Circuit Court, led by Judge Óscar Carrasquilla As for the unconstitutionality warning, the rules establish that this appeal does not stop the processes, except at the sentencing stage.

In any case, Sterling's procedural roadmap would continue to be undermined by criminal complaints, the disciplinary complaint, and by the veiled threat publicly proclaimed, that the salaries of Public Ministry officials and  a high-profile investigator would be kidnapped.



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Guatemala court  starts extradition  process  for Martinelli son


Posted 07/08/2020

The Fifth Criminal Court of Guatemala on  Friday, August 7 announced the start of the extradition process of Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares, the son of former president Ricardo Martinelli wanted in the United States for alleged money laundering and conspiracy to launder money linked to Odebrecht.

The court - made up of three judges - granted a period of up to 40 days for the United States to present the formal request for extradition and the supporting documents. “Failure to do so within the given period, "the measures of coercion will be revoked and the release of the requested person will be ordered." The decision was adopted on July 24

Luis Enrique and his brother Ricardo Alberto were captured in Guatemala on July 6, when they were trying to board a private plane to Panama. Since then, they have been the Mariscal Zavala military prison.

The extradition for Ricardo Alberto is in the Third Criminal Sentencing Court, which has not yet released a decision. His lawyer, Denis Cutesy, challenged the court and apparently will do the same in the Fifth Court.

Cuesy alleges that the brothers are alternate deputies of Parlacen and that the arrest violates their "benefits" as diplomats but was never sworn in as alternate deputies and the Parlacen rejected a move to do so.

According to the US indictment, the brothers  participated as "intermediaries" in the receipt and payment of bribes for $28million, "under the direction of Odebrecht."

The payments would have benefited a Panamanian official, whose name has not been noted in the documents released so far (but he is described as "an official with a very high position in the government of Panama a "close relative" of the two defendants." between 2009 and 2014, when Martinelli was president.



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