Luis Martinelli is one of the two sons of the former President of Panama who has been accused of participating in a conspiracy to collect a bribe of $28 million.
Luis Martinelli and his brother were charged by the Justice Department with allegedly facilitating $28 million in bribe payments by Odebrecht to an unidentified high-level Panamanian government official described as his close relative.
A lawyer for the two brothers told a federal magistrate judge in Brooklyn on Tuesday that Luis Martinelli intended to enter into a plea agreement with US prosecutors under which he would plead guilty to a count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The case stems from a far-reaching investigation into corruption at Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction company and one of its subsidiaries, which in December 2016 reached several billion settlements with US, Brazilian and Swiss authorities. The company changed its name last year to Novonor.
Prosecutors say the company was involved in paying more than $700 million in bribes to government officials and political parties in Panama, Brazil and elsewhere. The case arose out of Brazil’s so-called Operation Car Wash investigation and investigations into former and current politicians and officials throughout Latin America.
In Panama, former President Ricardo Martinelli, who was not named in US court documents on charges of money laundering conspiracy against his sons, has been the subject of various criminal investigations.
His son, who previously lived in the Miami area, was indicted by Panamanian authorities on money laundering charges in February 2017. He remained in the US, where he was in discussions with prosecutors about a government investigation until 2020.
During that time, the Martinelli brothers nearly worked out a settlement with the Justice Department to resolve their liability in the US stemming from the Odebrecht case, Michael Harper, a federal prosecutor, told magistrate judge Tuesday during Luis Martinelli’s appearance.
But shortly before final agreement was reached, Luis Martinelli, accompanied by his brother, wife and children, crossed the US border in June 2020 and traveled by boat to the Bahamas, where they boarded a private jet in an attempt to travel to Panama. rode in, said Mr. Harper.
Mr Harper said Luis Martinelli and his brother would have made it to Panama if not for the coronavirus-related travel restrictions that temporarily block their jets from entering the country. He was arrested in Guatemala City “mere minutes” when his jet was about to take off in another attempt to reach Panama after securing humanitarian authorization to enter the country, he said.
A magistrate judge on Tuesday ordered Luis Martinelli to remain in custody until his plea is heard and sentenced at the request of prosecutors, who said the episode demonstrated that Martinelli took a high flight risk.
Luis Martinelli’s lawyer in a letter to the court on Monday called the attempt to travel to Panama a “mistakenly mistaken mistake”, adding that the brothers are seeking to be reunited with their family after the outbreak of the pandemic. Were. The attorney, James McGovern, did not respond to a request for further comment.
Luis Martinelli is to appear in court again on December 14, the judge said on Tuesday.
Dylan Tokar [email protected] . Feather