A Panamanian court ordered on Friday to bring former president Ricardo Martinelli to trial for alleged money laundering in the purchase of a publishing house, the second trial he will face in 2023.
Judge Baloisa Marquínez ordered Martinelli (2009-2014) to stand trial, arguing that the funds used to buy in 2010 the publishing company Epasa by businessmen linked to the former president allegedly “had illicit origins”.
The trial hearings against the 70-year-old former president were scheduled from April 17 to 28.
Panamanian prosecutors allege that in 2010, 18 transactions were made, for almost 40 million dollars, to the company New Business to acquire several companies, using 12 banks in Panama, the United States, Switzerland and China.
But the former president and owner of a supermarket chain assures that he never received “any ill-gotten gains” and that it is all about “a political circus” to prevent him from being a presidential candidate again in May 2024.
On November 8, the same judge ordered the trial of Martinelli and former president Juan Carlos Varela (2014-2019) for another case of alleged laundering of bribes paid by the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.
This trial will take place from August 1 to 18, 2023.
According to the prosecution, Martinelli and Varela have allegedly received money from Odebrecht through front companies and offshore accounts, in a scandal that has also affected other Latin American governors.
In the last four years, nearly 30 corruption cases have been opened in Panama, but there have been no convictions against high-ranking officials or the cases have been dropped due to flaws in the processes.
Two of Martinelli’s sons, Ricardo and Luis Enrique, are in prison in the United States after pleading guilty to receiving $28 million in commissions from Odebrecht while their father was president.