Money laundering trial begins against former Panamanian President Martinelli and others
Former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli was among about 20 people to appear in court on Tuesday on money laundering charges as he tries to make a political comeback ahead of national elections next year.
PANAMA CITY — Former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli was among about 20 people to appear in court on Tuesday on money laundering charges as he tries to make a political comeback ahead of national elections next year.
Martinelli, who underwent back surgery last week, was not present. One of his lawyers tried twice to stop the proceedings, but Judge Baloisa Marquínez rejected the efforts. The former president denied wrongdoing.
The case, known locally as “New Business”, dates back to 2017 and concerns the purchase of a publishing company that owns national newspapers.
Prosecutors allege that through a complex series of foreign money transfers totaling $43 million, companies that won lucrative government contracts under Martinelli’s presidency funneled money to a shell company that was then used to buy the publisher. The front company collecting the money was called “New Business”.
Martinelli is expected to stand trial later this year in a case related to massive bribes paid by Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht to win government contracts.
Martinelli was the president of Panama from 2009 to 2014. He is expected to take part in his party’s primary election in July.