(AP) — A son of Panama’s former president, Ricardo Martinelli, pleaded guilty Tuesday in New York to laundering $28 million in connection with a massive bribery scheme involving a global construction conglomerate.
Ricardo Martinelli Linares, 42, was extradited to the U.S. last week from Guatemala in a case involving the Brazil-based company Odebrecht S.A.
His younger brother, Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares, had previously followed the same path: he was extradited from Guatemala in November and pleaded guilty on December 2nd to the same count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Odebrecht’s scheme involved the payment of more than $700 million in bribes to government officials, public servants, political parties and others in Panama and other countries. The company pleaded guilty in 2016 to conspiracy to violate anti-bribery provisions of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
U.S. prosecutors say the Martinelli Linares brothers laundered money from bribes that were directed to a close relative of theirs, identified only as a high-ranking government official in Panama from 2009 until 2014.
Former Panamanian President Martinelli served from 2009 until 2014. He was acquitted in November in Panama of charges he tapped the phones of opponents and journalists. He has said he hopes to run again for the presidency in 2024.
Dressed in a light green prison uniform, Martinelli Linares repeated, “Yes, your honor” to questions posed to him during Tuesday’s court proceeding by U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie.
Both brothers are being held without bail.
Prosecutors said that an earlier attempt to finalize a plea bargain fell apart in June 2020 when the brothers slipped across the U.S. border, traveled to the Bahamas by boat, and then boarded a private jet in an attempt to return to Panama.
When the plane was turned away due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, they ended up in several Central American countries before entering Guatemala on invalid diplomatic credentials. They were arrested there, on an arrest warrant issued out of New York, when they attempted to board a private family jet, set to fly to Panama.
They spent more than a year in a Guatemalan prison, before being extradited to the U.S.
An attorney for Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares, 39, said last month that the brothers fled because the U.S. government did not provide them with protection from deportation while they were negotiating a plea bargain.
Dearie agreed with prosecutors Tuesday that Martinelli Linares couldn’t be released on a $5 million proposed bond because of the way he fled in 2020.
“This is somebody who planned an escape,” Dearie said. “Actions speak louder than words.”
Martinelli Linares won’t be sentenced until at least next May. In his plea deal, he has agreed to forfeit nearly $19 million USD.
more recommended stories
Traditional cooks ask to respect and protect the original flavor of ancestral Mexican cuisine
The International Meeting “The Children of.
Maya Train continues with archaeological salvage work in Balancán, Tabasco
The exploration of two architectural complexes.
Hong Kong to kill thousands of hamsters after Covid found on 11 animals
Hong Kong has ordered thousands of.
17-year-old girl Monserrat Rodríguez reported missing in Mérida
Monserrat Rodríguez has been missing for.
Tourism decreases in Celestún and Sisal due to Cold Front No. 22
With intense gusts of wind and.
Governor Inaugurates the C5I Yucatan Control Center
The C5I Yucatan Control Center will.
Suicide number 7 is recorded in Campeche so far this year
Suicide in Campeche, a mental health.
Construction company seeks to devastate the Sian Ka’an Reserve in Tulum
The construction company Obra Prima seeks.
Sargassum lands on Cozumel beach along with cold front #22
Large amounts of sargassum landed out.
According to Irving Berlin, INAH must evaluate any change in “Casa de Montejo”
The Mérida City Council Culture Department.