Two sons of the former president of Panama Ricardo Martinelli were sentenced this Friday in a court of USA for conspiring to receive bribes, allegedly for his father, from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.
Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares had already pleaded guilty to $28 million laundering who, according to Luis Enrique Martinelli’s lawyer, James Mac Govern, committed “by father’s orders”.
Judge Raymond Dearie issued a sentence of three years in jail and two more of probation, a sentence less than the one sought by the prosecution of between nine and 11 years.
Since they had been detained in Guatemala and the United States for almost two years, the Martinelli Flores brothers will only have to spend 13 more months in prison.
The case began in 2016, when the Odebrecht company acknowledged having bribed officials from various Latin American countries with more than US$700 million to win contracts.
The ex-president Ricardo Martinelli has not been convicted of any crime, but still under investigation in Panama in a separate case for alleged corruption related to Odebrecht.
The former president has denied the accusations against him.
“To please you”
After being arrested and charged, the Martinelli Linares brothers they acknowledged having created fictitious bank accounts and companies to receive bribes during his father’s term in Panama (2009-2014).
In 2021 they pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering conspiracy.
“Really I wanted to please him, keep him happykeep him proud (…) That does not mean that I am not responsible for my actions, ”he declared in reference to his father Luis Martinelli at the sentencing hearing in the New York court.
Ricardo Alberto Martinelli also said he regretted his actions and hoped his guilty plea would help “establish accountability” in Panama.
For the defendants it was “a favorable result, far removed from the excessive claims of the prosecutors,” said the spokesman for former President Martinelli, Luis Camacho.
The defense had argued that the Martinelli brothers should not spend any more time in detention because they had acted “on their father’s orders,” and had already spent almost two years in detention in Guatemala and six months in Brooklyn.
Judge Dearie said that the two sons of the former president had shown an “arrogant” attitude during the time they committed crimes.
However, he dismissed the request for up to 11 years in prison that the prosecution had requested, which expects there to be a payment of US$19 million of the US$28 million involved in the bribery trial of the Martinellis.
Corruption cases involving the Odebrecht firm have led to major scandals and the opening of legal proceedings in Brazil, Peru, Panama, Ecuador, Argentina, the Dominican Republic and Colombia.