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US bans entry of ex-Panama president Martinelli and his family – 01/26/2023

US bans entry of ex-Panama president Martinelli and his family – 01/26/2023

The United States on Wednesday (25) banned the entry of former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli for accepting “kickbacks”. The action also includes members of his family, including two sons who returned to Panama after working in the United States to receive bribes from Odebrecht.

Martinelli received bribes in exchange for improperly awarding government contracts during his tenure as president, which made Martinelli and members of his immediate family ineligible to enter the United States, according to a statement released by the U.S. Embassy. Panama

The note was published shortly after the brothers Luis Enrique and Ricardo Martinelli arrived in Panama. They were released on Wednesday (25) after completing their sentence in the United States.

The children of the former president, who wants to run again in the 2024 presidential elections, have arrived at Panama’s capital Documen International Airport on a commercial flight.

The two departed from Newark Airport (New Jersey), guarded by agents of the US Immigration Service, said their lawyer, Carlos Carrillo.

The Martinelli brothers have been indicted in Panama on suspicion of money laundering in the Odebrecht case and the conspiracy to collect commissions to organize contracts during the Martinelli government (2009-2014) another scandal known as the “Blue Apple” ).

Martinelli’s children served two-and-a-half years of a three-year prison sentence and fined US$250,000 by a US court for accepting US$28 million in bribes from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht. .

How long were they detained? First in Guatemala and then in the US? Subtracted from the sentence established by the US Department of Justice.

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At the hearing, where the verdict was announced, lawyers for the brothers, who pleaded guilty to the charges brought against them by the US attorney’s office, accused former President Martinelli of inciting their children to commit crimes.

In the case, the 70-year-old former president, who has also been summoned to stand trial in Panama, has denied receiving “any illegal money” and says it is a “political circus” to bar him from running for president again.

Panama’s public ministry alleges that between 2009 and 2015, Martinelli and his children received bribes from Ottbrecht through shell companies.

The brothers were not arrested when they arrived in Panama because each posted US$7 million in bail: US$2 million for the Odebrecht case, and US$5 million for the “Blue Apple” case, according to lawyer Carrilo.

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© Agence France-Presse