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Panama Prosecutor’s Office calls for indictment of 50 people in Odebrecht case

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Among the 50 people are three former officials charged with the crime of “corruption of public servants”, which is punishable by 4 to 8 years in prison, the Public Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement in which the names of those involved are not disclosed.

Panama Public Prosecutor’s Office said Monday that it requested the dismissal of the case for 29 people and that “it is sending the prosecutor’s view of the investigation file”, which consists of 2,194 volumes, containing 915,958 pages, to the Third Court of Criminal Cases of the First Judicial Circuit of Panama.

, Panama Prosecutor’s Office calls for indictment of 50 people in Odebrecht case
Panama’s Public Prosecutor’s Office asked on Monday to call to trial 50 natural persons and one legal entity charged with money laundering in the Odebrecht case. (Photo internet reproduction)

Official sources who requested anonymity told Efe that among the defendants that the Prosecutor’s Office is asking to sit in the dock are not the former presidents Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) and Juan Carlos Varela (2014-2019). Still, the former’s sons, Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares detained in Guatemala for extradition to the US for the Odebrecht case.

Former presidents Martinelli and Varela are under investigation. They have been questioned since mid-2020 for the crimes of money laundering, the former, and illicit campaign financing, the latter, in cases related to funds from the Brazilian construction company that, according to the source consulted by Efe, continue to be investigated.

In January 2017, the Prosecutor’s Office charged the Martinelli brothers, who were already out of the country, with money laundering. In May 2018, the Panamanian Foreign Ministry requested their extradition to the United States, from where they left in July 2020. On their return to Panama, they were arrested in Guatemala at the request of the US courts.

The Prosecutor’s Office highlighted this Monday that “during the course of the investigation, 8 agreements of effective collaboration and 11 sentencing agreements with conviction were entered into”.

Odebrecht’s “unaccounted cash box, with its complex structure, used national and foreign banks to transfer illicit money to public servants and their relatives for an amount of more than 100 million dollars, which directly impacted the concession and payment of works developed by the conglomerate” in Panama, the Public Prosecutor’s Office indicated.

For this complex scheme, the accused “used Panamanian and foreign corporations, frontmen or interposed persons, insurance, fictitious contracts, and financing of political campaigns,” it added.

So far, the Prosecutor’s Office has recovered US$49,523,898.51 in money seized in favor of the State, of which $37,809,358.07 correspond to advances made by the Odebrecht companies, the judicial body indicated.

The investigation of the Odebrecht case in Panama concluded in October 2020 with 100 defendants and doubts as to whether this trial will be able to materialize, given a large number of defendants and the rules established by law for its development.

The Panama chapter of Transparency International (TI) warned that the trial could extend for years, given the number of defendants and their lawyers, which will make the process of notification and holding the preliminary hearing complex, in which the presence of all defendants is required.

The Prosecutor’s Office and Odebrecht signed in July 2017 an agreement by which the company committed to pay within 12 years a fine of US$220 million, which a Panamanian court validated.

Source: Swissinfo

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