The US Department of Justice (DOJ) Friday announced that former Panama President Ricardo Martinelli’s sons were sentenced earlier that day in a New York City federal courthouse to 36 months of imprisonment. They will also pay a USD 250,000 fine each and close to USD 19 million in cumulative forfeiture, and forfeit various assets for their participation in a bribery and money laundering scheme involving Odebrecht S.A. (Odebrecht, now Novonor), a Brazilian conglomerate.
The two brothers, Luis Martinelli Linares and Ricardo Martinelli Linares, were charged in 2020 and extradited from Guatemala to the US late last year. Both of them pleaded guilty to laundering USD 28 million.
Through this Odebrecht scheme, “payment of more than $700 million in bribes to government officials, public servants, political parties, and others in Panama and other countries around the world to obtain and retain business for the company.”
Kenneth Polite, assistant attorney general for the the criminal division in the DOJ, said that the bribes were directed through US banks to the brothers’ Swiss accounts “in order to help Odebrecht gain corrupt influence at the highest levels of the Panamanian government.”
FBI Criminal Investigative Division Assistant Director Luis Quesada said, “The defendants laundered millions of dollars in bribes through the U.S. financial system to benefit a close relative and maintain their luxury lifestyles. Today’s sentencing shows that the FBI and our law enforcement partners are committed to bringing to justice anyone who enables the corruption of public officials for personal gain.”
The brothers have already served almost two years of their sentence.