|Photo: Johan ORDONEZ / AFP|
A Brooklyn court on Friday sentenced Luis Enrique and Ricardo Martinelli, the sons of former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli, to three years in prison for plotting to extort money from Brazilian multinational Odebrecht.
Judge Raymond J. Deree’s sentence was fined $ 250,000, much less than the 9- to 11-year sentence for allegedly accepting a $ 28 million bribe from a Brazilian multinational company. Transferred by US Accounts.
The brothers pleaded guilty in December after being deported to the United States. From 36 months of imprisonment, they have to waive almost 23 months of detention, first in Guatemala, while waiting for extradition, and then at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
Ricardo Martinelli Jr.’s attorney, 42, said at the end of Sean Hecker’s trial, for good conduct, he expects the defendants to serve only six months.
During the one-and-a-half-hour hearing, the defendants, who were with their lawyers, admitted their actions and apologized for them.
The prosecution alleges that the Martinelli brothers benefited from payments from a Brazilian company in exchange for a license to carry out public works and “facilitated the bribery of a Panamanian government official through Odebrecht.” Father, Ricardo Martinelli, who ruled Panama from 2009 to 2014.
According to prosecutors, the brothers “believed in themselves above the law” and, although his name was not mentioned in the documents, acted “without punishment” due to the “security” of the position held by their father.
Similarly, Brooklyn’s federal attorney, Bron Peace, believes the judge’s verdict “sends a strong message to public servants and their families who want to sell their country and its public resources at a higher price in exchange for personal wealth and luxury.”
“The Martinelli brothers used American banks to commit their own selfish and greedy fraud,” said Brian Pease, a New York Eastern District Attorney. “Together, the judiciary, this office and our security forces stand firm against international corruption and will use every resource at their disposal to eradicate it.”
In Panama, the Martinelli brothers were charged with money laundering in what became known as the “Blue Apple,” a conspiracy to collect commissions to expedite contracts during their father’s government.
– Boating and Luxury Life –
According to the lawsuit, Martinellis invested $ 9.5 million in money he received from Odebrecht in a cell phone company in Panama, in addition to shares and debt.
Also, Louis Enrique Martinelli bought a $ 1.7 million boat and $ 1.3 million apartment in Miami, while his brother paid “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in credit card fees on American Express.
Despite pleading guilty, the judges refused to release him on bail. Both are being held in a practically “isolated” position at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center, their lawyers say.
After international leader Marcelo Odebrecht pleaded guilty in 2018, the Martinelli brothers began negotiating their judicial future with US justice, but on June 25, 2020, they fled to the Bahamas by boat without informing authorities.
They were arrested on July 6, 2020, when they landed in Guatemala on a private plane to take them to Panama. Louis Enrique Martinelli was deported to the United States on November 15, 2021. His brother arrived on December 10th.
Last December, Panama asked the United States for money that the Martinelli brothers considered to be “victims of crime” and admitted to receiving from Odebrecht.
The Martinelli brothers are wanted by a Panamanian court in connection with a bribery scandal involving jobs known as the “Blue Apple”.
Former President Martinelli (2009-2014) is under investigation in the Odebrecht scandal. Despite this, he announced his intention to run for a new term in 2024.
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