Four days before the sentencing in New York of the sons of former president Ricardo Martinelli for money laundering in the Odebrecht global corruption plot there is ' international shame ' that Panama and their administration of justice have not yet been able to bring to trial locally those responsible for the diversion of millions of dollars destined for public infrastructure works reports La Prensa.
Former comptroller Alvin Weeden , who was one of the first to file a complaint with Odebrecht -in September 2015- to initiate an investigation into the use of the local financial system in illegal activities said:“ happily the long arm of justice is working somewhere in the world”. But it is unfortunate since another jurisdiction has had to do it.“With this week's sentence, the prosecutors' investigations do not end, since the next one would be the unnamed senior official.”
Former Attorney General, Ana Matilde Gómez , described as ' a national shame ' the fact that the Martinelli Linares have pleaded guilty to the crime of laundering bribes in favor of a ' senior official '. of the Panamanian government, that is a close relative” and that in Panama not even the preliminary hearing could be held.“ The equation is almost perfect or almost complete. For whom could the children launder money if they did not hold public office?”, Gómez said.
Lawyer Carlos Ernesto González says Article 24 of the Constitution reads:“ The State may not extradite its nationals ...” For González, this case questions the efficiency of justice. Although there are some justice operators in Panama who try to do their job, the mechanisms to guarantee the impunity of the corrupt remain intact.“ The problem is not that there is corruption, which can happen anywhere in the world, the problem is that it is not punished”.
From Monday, July 18 to Friday, August 5, the Third Criminal Court of the First Judicial Circuit of Panama, plans to hold the main preliminary hearing of the Odebrecht case. There are 62 defendants, including former presidents Ricardo Martinelli and Juan Carlos Varela .
The big question
The former Accounts Prosecutor, Guido Rodríguez , does not expect the name of the ' senior official ' to be revealed at Friday's hearing. Although it is clear in Panama who is the big fish, the question is still hanging around. He cited an article by the singer Rubén Blades , published on January 16, 202, in which, questioning Martinelli, he makes the following reflection:“ His two sons have already accepted his corruption, admitting to being guilty of accepting bribes, laundering and hiding money, and act as illicit intermediaries. There is only one more question to be clarified: Ricardo Martinelli, are you that high-ranking official and close relative?”.
The Martinelli rothers, admitted to having laundered at least $28 million dollars in bribes (now prosecutors say that this figure could be doubled), have tried to minimize their participation by claiming that they actually had a role as.“ peripherals” in the scheme.
Their father is not only protected from eventual extradition but -for now- he cannot be prosecuted in the New Business money laundering cases, whose hearing begins Thursday, May 19.