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Panama: Former President’s Sons Received $50M in ‘Undue Payments’

  • VOA News

FILE - Panama's former President Ricardo Martinelli answers questions during an interview at a hotel in Guatemala City, Jan. 28, 2015.

Panamanian prosecutors say Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, involved in a huge international corruption scandal, has paid bribes of several million dollars to the sons of former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli.

Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enriquez Martinelli are suspected of receiving more than $50 million in “undue payments” from Odebrecht, Panama’s prosecutors said Thursday.

Odebrecht allegedly paid about $800 million in bribes associate with infrastructure contracts in a dozen Latin American countries between 2002 and 2016, including at least $59 million in Panama. Panamanian authorities say the real figure is likely much higher.

The Attorney General’s Office alleged in a statement that there were several multimillion-dollar transfers to the Martinelli brothers through accounts in Panama and abroad in 2010-2014.

It said that allegations are based on information obtained from cooperating witnesses in the investigation, the former Panama manager for Brazil’s Odebrecht, Andre Campos Rabello, and two other former Odebrecht executives.

The Martinelli family has denied the sons’ involvement in the bribery scandal, alleging persecution by political foes.

The former president, who has also denied any wrongdoing, has been detained in the United States facing possible extradition to Panama on charges of embezzlement and political espionage.

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