The US sanctioned Ricardo Martinelli and prohibited him from entering its territory for being involved in corruption crimes

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken pointed out the former Panamanian president for receiving bribes in exchange for improperly awarded contracts

The US sanctioned Ricardo Martinelli and prohibited him from entering its territory for being involved in corruption crimes

USA sanctioned Ricardo Martinelli and prohibited him from entering its territory for being involved in crimes of corruption. (REUTERS)

The government of the United States sanctioned this Wednesday the former president of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) and accused him of being involved in “large-scale corruption”.

In In a statement, the Secretary of State of the United States, Antony Blinken, accused the former president of having “received bribes in exchange for improperly awarded contracts” during his tenure. p>

These actions, Blinken noted, “undermine the integrity of Panama's democratic institutions.”

The sanctions, the statement details, also extend to his “close relatives”, prohibiting them from entering US territory.

“Martinelli accepted bribes in exchange for improperly awarding contracts during his term as president” making “Martinelli and members of his immediate family ineligible to enter the United States,” Blinken noted.

The former Panamanian president is one of the 36 people who were called to trial last November in Panama for money laundering in the bribery case of the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, the largest episode of corruption in the history of the country.

Former President Martinelli's sons, Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique, were released Tuesday after serving a sentence in the US for participating “in bribery payments made by and under the direction of Odebrecht” for a total of 28 million dollars.

The US sanctioned Ricardo Martinelli and prohibited him from entering its territory for being involved in crimes of corruption

The former Panamanian president is one of the 36 people who were called to trial last November in Panama for money laundering in the case of bribery from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, the largest episode of corruption in the country's history. (AP)

Both left from the Newar airportk (New Jersey) guarded by ICE agents, the US immigration service, said his lawyer, Carlos Carrillo.

The sons of the former ruler are charged in Panama for another scandal known as “Blue Apple”, a plot to collect commissions to expedite contracts during the Martinelli government (2009-2014), who aspires to run for president again in the 2024 elections.

At the hearing in which the verdict was announced, lawyers for the brothers, who had pleaded guilty to charges brought against them by the US Attorney's office, they accused former president Martinelli (2009-2014) of having induced them to commit the crimes.

The Judicial Branch of Panama had assured a few days ago that the brothers would enter prison upon their return, after a court rejected the requests of their lawyers to “suspend the arrest warrant” against them.

“The public ministry has high expectations that these two people (…) face the criminal responsibility that they are being accused of,” Panama's chief prosecutor, Javier Caraballo, said on Tuesday.< /p>

But this Wednesday, lawyer Carrillo stated that the Martinelli brothers “cannot be detained” in Panama because they each paid seven million dollars in bonds: two million for the Odebrecht case and five million for the “Blue Apple”.

The US sanctioned Ricardo Martinelli and prohibited him from entering its territory for being involved in corruption crimes

The The sons of the former ruler are charged in Panama for another scandal known as “Blue Apple”, a plot to collect commissions to expedite contracts during the Martinelli government (2009-2014), who aspires to run again for the presidency in the elections 2024. (AP)

The Panamanian media had speculated that the Martinelli brothers would arrive in Panama this Wednesday night. Together with his father, they must now be held accountable before the Panamanian justice system in the hearings for the Odebrecht case.

In July In 2017, Odebrecht signed an agreement with the Panamanian Prosecutor's Office to pay a fine of 220 million dollars to the State in 12 years, which is not being complied with.

In addition to the cases in Panama for alleged money laundering, the former president is being investigated in Spain for a case of alleged corruptionfor bribes that the construction company FCC confessed to having paid in Panama, and for another of course spying on a woman in Mallorca.

Martinelli's children fled the United States United on June 25, 2020 on a ship to the Bahamas, where they boarded a private plane to travel to Panama.

However, as entry was blocked to the country due to the covid-19 pandemic, they ended up in El Salvadorr, from whence they crossed overland into Guatemala. There they were finally arrested on July 6, 2020, when they tried to travel on a private flight to their country.

The US justice system accused them of using the banks of this country to commit their < b>“selfish and greedy” fraud.

The US sanctioned Ricardo Martinelli and prohibited him from entering its territory for being involved in corruption crimes

In addition Of the cases in Panama for alleged money laundering, the former president is being investigated in Spain for a case of alleged corruption for bribes that the construction company FCC confessed to having paid in Panama, and for another alleged spying on a woman in Mallorca. (EFE)

On December 21, 2016, Odebrecht pleaded guilty before the same Brooklyn court that convicted the Martinellis, of having distributed more than 788 million dollars in bribes to government officials, various public officials and political parties, basically in Latin America, to obtain and retain mainly infrastructure works.

In Panama, where Odebrecht built the two metro lines in the metropolitan area, the expansion of the Tocumen airport and several sections of the capital's seafront, among other millionaire works, the multinational acknowledged having paid 59 million dollars in bribes.

For this case, it is also called to trial, to be held in August, former President Martinelli, 70, who denies having received “any ill-gotten royalties” and affirms that it is all about “a political circus” to prevent him from running for president again.

(With information from EFE and A FP)

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