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Also see https://chiriqui.life/topic/7880-“blue-apple”-corruption-scandal for more postings involving the Martinelli family, especially the two Martinelli sons.

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Ex-president i facing justice  intimidation challenge


Ricardo Martinelli

Posted 03/08/2020

Ex-president Ricardo Martinelli  under stress as his sons face extradition  to the US to face money laundering charges  related to Odebrecht  with the possibility  of  his being embroiled now  faces a new legal battle over his alleged attempts to  intimidate judges and prosecutors

A complaint was filed with the Public Ministry last week for the alleged commission of crimes against the administration of justice and advocacy of crime.

The complaint alleges  that Martinelli exerted pressure against prosecutors, officials and former officials of the justice administration, "in order to prevent them from fulfilling their functions."

The legal action, presented by lawyer Enrique De Gracia Lezcano, maintains that it is a public and well-known fact that the former president has been threatening, intimidating, denouncing, filing complaints and promoting kidnapping actions against prosecutors, judges and magistrates who have intervened or participate in investigations and judicial processes in which he has been immersed due to actions taken during his presidential term.

De Gracia specifies that the actions taken by Martinelli are framed in article 388 of the Judicial Code, which typifies the crime against the administration of justice.

It details that the norm states that this crime will be incurred “by anyone who, by use of physical force, threatens, intimidation or the promise of offering or granting undue benefit, obstructs or prevents the fulfillment of the official functions of an official of the Public Ministry or the Judicial Branch ”.

The complaint details that the threats and intimidation had materialized with "the illegitimate use of legal actions and statements that have been exposed to national and international public opinion."

The targets
The  actions have reached the ex- Supreme Court  judges Harry Díaz and Jerónimo Mejía, who were part of the process that was followed by Martinelli and which became known as the puncture case. Díaz as prosecutor and Mejía, as judge of guarantees. He also did it against the former attorney general Kenia Porcell

He has targeted Senior Anti-Corruption Prosecutor Tania Sterling, who is investigating him for the Odebrecht bribery scandal.

His actions, also include  officials from the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences who have evaluated him psychiatrically  and physically  at the request of prosecutors.

The complaint  says  that Martinelli warned prosecutors not to use a note from the United States Department of Justice, through which the Counselor of the Office of Legal Affairs Thomas Heinemann, assures that the specialty principle does not apply.

Martinelli said that "the prosecutor who thinks of using the letter will face legal repercussions."

According to De Gracia's complaint, the actions of the former president executed against officials in charge of administering justice are clearly fraudulent, as they are aimed at causing fear to judges, prosecutors, and even administrative support personnel with the intention that they do not comply with their functions.

Roniel Ortiz, from  the Martinelli pack  of lawyers, alleges that the complaint filed against his client is meaningless, since all the legal actions taken by the former president against prosecutors, former magistrates and others are based on regulations contained in the Judicial Code.



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Swiss media report fingers Martinellis in bribery expose


Ricardo Martinelli and sons named in report

Posted 04/08/2020

Panama is one of the emerging countries of Central America. Since 2010, the country has registered economic growth between 3.7% and 11.3%. Skyscrapers now dominate the skyline of the capital city on the Pacific coast says an article published in Tages-Anzeiger, in Zurich, Switzerland

But that rapid growth has its counterpart. The existing infrastructure was unable to keep up. To prevent the imminent collapse of traffic, Panama invested in a new subway: the construction of the first two lines of the Metro cost 3.3 billion euros. Construction started in 2010, and the second section was opened in April of last year.

The billionaire contract was awarded to the Spanish construction company Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas (FCC) , the Brazilian group Odebrecht and the French Alstom Group, which also operates in Switzerland with its transport division.

According to documents to which the newspaper SonntagsZeitung had access: 82 million euros were paid in bribes, through a Swiss bank, to obtain the contract. This is the result of the ruling of the Federal Criminal Court, in mid-May.

According to the decision, the financial intermediary involved refuses to release the information from Swiss bank accounts to prosecutors in Madrid. The judge in Bellinzona, however, ruled that it was up to the judge in Spain to decide whether the documents show a relevant criminal connection.

The corruption scandal over the construction of the Metro has been widely reported in the Spanish media, but so far, the case has gone unnoticed in Switzerland. The construction company FCC is following an offensive in its information policy towards the Spanish newspaper El País , and also towards the prosecutor investigating the case. The company, which most recently had a turnover of 5.5 billion euros, does not deny the corruption charge.

But, the company, which has its headquarters in Barcelona, turned the table and claims that it has been a victim. Mauricio Cort , a Panama City attorney, and consultant, who was hired by the FCC, is responsible for the illegal corrupt payments. His mission: to support the company in its proposal for the billionaire contract.

According to an internal investigation, it turned out that Cort has sent the company 38 invoices for a total of 82 million euros, for which, however, there was no work done..

The flow
To disguise the flow of bribes, Swiss money was channeled by Banca Privada d'Andorra, in the small state of the same name. From there, they were sent to officials in Panama.

The investigation in Andorra revealed that the accounts were not only used to pay the Metro bribes, but for other FCC contracts in Latin American countries, Cort transferred a total of 434 million euros to Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Costa Rica.

The money also flowed like this in the case of corruption of the Panama Metro and reached the accounts of decision makers in the allocation of contracts.

According to statements by an FCC representative to the Madrid prosecutors office, part of the bribe money went to a former president of the country. Ricardo Martinelli , who governed from 2009 to 2014, ana is already being investigated for corruption in another case.

According to Panamanian media, the children of Martinelli, Ricardo and Luis Enrique , also benefited from bribes. Several million were deposited with Pictet and Lombard Odier , a Geneva-based bank, and in an account with the private bank Notenstein La Roche, which was later integrated into the Vontobel Group.

The bribes were allegedly paid by the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht. To hide the origin of the funds, the accounts were opened by companies based in the Bahamas.

In fact, the processes now conducted by the Spanish prosecution are part of an investigation into Rodrigo Tacla , a former lawyer for the Odebrecht company. Investigators who followed the money in this case almost always ended up in Swiss private banks.

Bribes paid by Odebrecht have been a matter of concern for the Swiss Attorney General's Office since 2015, when it initiated proceedings against the company, for money laundering and bribery payments. In the course of the investigation, another 60 criminal investigations were initiated and 620 million Swiss francs were frozen.

The Swiss Attorney General's office also acted against two banks: the PKB Privatbank , in Ticino, and J. Safra Sarasin . J. Safra Sarasin recently confirmed that the Swiss Attorney General's Office opened an investigation against him. The financial institution is accused of organizational deficiencies. The entity failed to prevent bribery of foreign public officials and to avoid money laundering.

Investigations are ongoing, but for officials at the bank, this is a matter of the past. At a press conference held by J. Safra Sarasin March, Jürg Haller , chairman of the board, said: “these are inherited responsibilities, "today we have compliance risks under control."



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Lawyers fire back at Martinelli’s “disgusting” intimidations


Posted 04/08/2020

Prominent  Panama lawyers  are speaking out in support of a denunciation of former president Ricardo for the alleged crimes of intimidation of public servants and advocacy of crime.

The legal action was filed by Lezcano Enrique de Gracia while lawyers, like Guido Rodríguez, former Accounts Attorney; Alvin Weeden former comptroller; Ernesto Cedeño and Carlos Herrera Morán consider Martinelli has abused the justice administration system by denouncing and filing complaints against officials and former officials.

They regard the criminal complaint filed by the lawyer Enrique De Gracia Lezcano against the former president as fully justified.

In their opinion, he has abused the justice administration system not only by complaining against officials and former officials but by threatening them with the kidnapping of their assets.

For example, former Accounts Prosecutor Guido Rodríguez considered that the Public Ministry (MP) could even have proceeded ex officio in defense and shielding the actions of judicial officials.

Doctors  attacked
“Clearly, the conduct described in article 388 –of the Penal Code– is typified with the alleged abusive use of the system of administration of justice, even against practicing officials who may have to participate in proceedings in the processes in which it is involved. the plaintiff as indeed occurs with the two doctors from the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences (Imelcf) who have been plaintiffs. What is sought, without any doubt, is to try to intimidate them, "he said.

For former Comptroller Alvin Weden, the complaint against the former president is perfectly in line with his actions, as he repeatedly threatens officials of the Public Ministry, which is criminalized in the Penal Code.

“He has gone so far as to sue forensic doctors for doing their duty. This is unusual for someone to sue doctors who have given technical opinions about his mental ability to cope with the processes, "he added.

"It is incredible that he has that attitude and uses ill-gotten money to keep the authorities on edge, threatening them with the kidnapping of their assets and more," said the former controller.

Ernesto Cedeño said that in this context, the prosecutors and judges play a very important role since it is they who must promote a process if they feel intimidated and for a process of this nature to prosper, it must be presented before the competent authority by the legal representative of the Public Ministry or the Judicial Branch and these, in his opinion, seem to be blind, deaf and dumb.

"Right now, what is happening is that these corrupt politicians are suing judges, prosecutors, ex-prosecutors, ex-magistrates and lawyers and practically put them on the street, because their assets are kidnapped and that is a disgusting and abusive practice," he said.

Criminal lawyer Carlos Herrera Morán argues that it is a public and notorious fact that Martinelli has been threatening, intimidating, denouncing, prosecuting and promoting kidnapping actions against prosecutors, judges and magistrates who have intervened or participate in investigations and judicial processes in which they have been immersed due to actions carried out in his government.



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US has “consequences” for corrupt  individuals  - State Department


Ricardo Martinelli

Posted 06/08/2020

"We don’t say that we are not going to negotiate with a government if it has some corruption, but there are consequences for corrupt individuals. Visas can be denied to them and their families, or we can impose sanctions," said, Michael Kozak, US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.in In a wide-ranging  interview with Radio Panama on Thursday he touched on corruption, the extradition from Guatemala  of the brothers Luis Enrique and Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares, their father’s attempt to use   a 1904  treaty to avoid trial in Panama after being extradited from Miami

For Kozak, the biggest drawback for a robust economy is corruption.

Although he did not want to speculate on the outcome of the Martinelli Linares brothers' extradition request,  he said that in the United States extradition requests are initiated by the Department of Justice and there are US authorities who work with the authorities of other countries to carry out the process. "It is an issue that is underway."

The Martinelli Linares brothers are detained in Guatemala following an extradition request by the United States to face a criminal complaint filed by a federal court in Brooklyn, New York, in which where the Martinelli Linares, sons of former president Ricardo Martinelli (2009 - 2014),  they are accused of alleged participation in massive bribery and money laundering scheme. money involving the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.

As for the principle of specialty that Martinelli uses to avoid being investigated in cases like Odebrecht and New Business, Kozak said that Panama is free to bring him to trial without obtaining an exemption from that rule.

“Under our interpretation, you do not need anything from us to be able to take action, it is a matter of Panamanian law. If the judicial authorities of Panama have something they want to do with Mr. Martinelli, they can do it, if they choose not to do it, that is their choice and it has nothing to do with the United States, ”he stressed.

He said that the repercussions of the Odebrecht case for the region were of enormous consequences due to a large amount of money and the linked high-level officials.

He reiterated that in the United States, the law against corrupt practices abroad was passed in the 1970s, which makes it illegal for any American company to pay bribes or engage in this type of activity.

 Venezuela, he continues to be a problem for the entire region. "This is a dictatorship that has illegally seized power, has destroyed the country's economy, has destroyed all the people's systems and services, the result has been that millions of Venezuelans have fled to neighboring countries and a huge  Humanitarian problem has been created.



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Trap closing on Martinelli as US says Panama can prosecute


Michael Kozak

Posted 06/08/2020

Former President Ricardo Martinelli facing a  dozen criminal investigations ranging from bribery to money laundering has repeatedly invoked the principle of specialty contemplated in the extradition treaty between Panama and the United States, as a reason for not being prosecuted in Panama.

On Tuesday, August 4he went to the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office investigating Odebrecht's bribes and refused to be investigated, because he says he has not "renounced" the principle.

But on Thursday Michael Kozak, acting undersecretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs in the United States once again slammed the door to  Martinelli’s escape route.

In a Radio  Panama interview with journalist Edwin Cabrera, Kozak said that "Panama is free to take him to trial, without obtaining an exception of that rule ”.

“Under our interpretation, you don't need anything from us in order to take action. It is now a matter of Panamanian law. If the authorities want to do something about Mr. Martinelli, they can. If they choose not to, that was their choice and it has nothing to do with the United States, ”Kozak said in the interview, broadcast on Radio Panama.

The principle of specialty, contemplated in the bilateral treaty of 1904, refers to the fact that an individual can only be prosecuted for the cause for which he was requested in extradition. In the case of Martinelli, it would be due to the illegal wiretapping case, for which he was declared "not guilty" a year ago, by a court of three judges (the sentence is under appeal).

 Last December, the US State Department warned that Martinelli has traveled abroad since September 2019, which is one of the grounds for an exception to the specialty principle.

"The position of the State Department has not changed ... What happens from now on depends on Panama," Kozak said.

Martinelli invokes the  principle to avoid being investigated in several cases of alleged money laundering, such as that of Odebrecht and New Business, the latter, about the alleged use of public funds for the purchase of the  publishing group that produces Panama America and  La Critica



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Frontal attack on officials investigating ex-president


Eduardo Ulloa switched team players

Posted 06/08/2020

While Switzerland and the United States continue to move forward with  multi-billion dollar Odebrecht bribery  investigations Panama’s  key anti-corruption prosecutor  is facing a frontal attack  says lawyer and columnist Rodrigo Noriega in a La Prensa analysis

The Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office, main prosecutor, Tania Sterling,  has been in charge of tracing the network of shell companies and bank accounts that shaped the heart of the criminal cause, and in June ordered the investigation in June. past of former President Ricardo Martinelli. Weeks earlier, the prosecutor Zuleyka Moore was removed from the case by the new   Attorney General, Eduardo Ulloa.

A barrage of legal actions against Sterling left the investigation of the supermarket magnate in the hands of the recently arrived prosecutor Azucena Aizpurúa.

The prosecution of crimes is a complicated activity that requires specialization and, a lot of experience in the subject. Investigating livestock thefts is not the same as identity theft or another computer crime. Nor are common crimes interchangeable with sophisticated money laundering operations says, Noriega.

Most Complex
The Odebrecht case is the most complex investigation ever carried out by the Public Ministry. It includes tracking transactions in multiple jurisdictions, and therefore a translation of documents from  Portuguese, English, German, and possibly other languages. The number of defendants, witnesses, and experts, together with the documents that must be analyzed, requires a clear understanding of the case and its evolution.

While the Odebrecht case in Panama has had many setbacks,  on July 27 by the assistant prosecutor Julia Nestor, from the Federal Prosecutor's Office for the Eastern District of New York, states that the investigation involving the brothers Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares and 12 other people required the cooperation of four jurisdictions and three years to compile documents and testimonies.

Panama’s  Special Anti-Corruption team was originally designed as an office with multiple heads, among which were the best known: Tania Sterling, Zuleyka Moore, Ruth Morcillo, and Vielka Broce.

Although Prosecutor Broce previously retired, the team received a hock when in February, the new Attorney General, incorporated two rookies into the Special Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office: Anilú Batista and Azucena Aizpurúa. A few months later, in the midst of the pandemic, Attorney Ulloa made a rotation, removing Prosecutor Moore from the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office, and Prosecutor Aurelio Vásquez, who was in charge of the investigations in the so-called Blue Apple cases and the from the wiretapping case and he was transferred to a family prosecutor's office.

In the Blue Apple case, a scheme the collection of surcharges and laundering of bribes very similar to that of the Odebrecht was used. The wiretapping case is pending two appeals for annulment and the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court of could well scrutinize the judgment of the Trial Court of August 26, 2019, who declared Ricardo Martinelli "not guilty". Without the prosecutor Vásquez, both cases are weakened.

On June 30, Sterling ordered the investigation of former Martinelli for alleged money laundering related to the Odebrecht case. Sterling, a well-known jurist within the Public Prosecutor's Office, was attacked on social networks and was the subject of multiple legal actions: Two criminal complaints claiming $10 million in damages; two challenges before the Twelfth Criminal Circuit Court, for not knowing the ex-president's medical incapacity and for having participated in the preparation of his extradition from the United States. A complaint was filed with Ulloa against Sterling, and an unconstitutionality warning was filed against her performance, alleging that Martinellis is protected by the principle of specialty.

In the mixed inquisitorial system, under which the Odebrecht case is developed, the challenges must be resolved by the court hearing the case, that is, the Twelfth Criminal Circuit Court, led by Judge Óscar Carrasquilla As for the unconstitutionality warning, the rules establish that this appeal does not stop the processes, except at the sentencing stage.

In any case, Sterling's procedural roadmap would continue to be undermined by criminal complaints, the disciplinary complaint, and by the veiled threat publicly proclaimed, that the salaries of Public Ministry officials and  a high-profile investigator would be kidnapped.



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Guatemala court  starts extradition  process  for Martinelli son


Posted 07/08/2020

The Fifth Criminal Court of Guatemala on  Friday, August 7 announced the start of the extradition process of Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares, the son of former president Ricardo Martinelli wanted in the United States for alleged money laundering and conspiracy to launder money linked to Odebrecht.

The court - made up of three judges - granted a period of up to 40 days for the United States to present the formal request for extradition and the supporting documents. “Failure to do so within the given period, "the measures of coercion will be revoked and the release of the requested person will be ordered." The decision was adopted on July 24

Luis Enrique and his brother Ricardo Alberto were captured in Guatemala on July 6, when they were trying to board a private plane to Panama. Since then, they have been the Mariscal Zavala military prison.

The extradition for Ricardo Alberto is in the Third Criminal Sentencing Court, which has not yet released a decision. His lawyer, Denis Cutesy, challenged the court and apparently will do the same in the Fifth Court.

Cuesy alleges that the brothers are alternate deputies of Parlacen and that the arrest violates their "benefits" as diplomats but was never sworn in as alternate deputies and the Parlacen rejected a move to do so.

According to the US indictment, the brothers  participated as "intermediaries" in the receipt and payment of bribes for $28million, "under the direction of Odebrecht."

The payments would have benefited a Panamanian official, whose name has not been noted in the documents released so far (but he is described as "an official with a very high position in the government of Panama a "close relative" of the two defendants." between 2009 and 2014, when Martinelli was president.



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When the powerful leave redemption too late


Noriega missed the boat

Posted 08/08/2020

Former Panama president Ricardo Martinelli and his band of lawyers continue to push the narrative that he cannot be tried for a dozen alleged crimes including bribery, corruption and money laundering and plundering state assets because of a 1904 “specialty”  treaty with the US that says he can only be tried for the offenses that led to his extradition to Panama – illegal wiretapping and embezzlement.

He was found not guilty by a three-person tribunal, but the ruling is under appeal.

Meanwhile, Michael Kozak Acting undersecretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs in the US who has a long track record of involvement in Panama affairs has made it clear that the specialty deal does not apply to Martinelli and warns that there are “consequences” for the corrupt.

La Prensa columnist Rolando Rodriguez reports    “for the information of political dyslexics” that Kozak is no stranger to the Isthmus. Besides having been a negotiator of the Canal Treaty, he also tried to negotiate the departure of [military divtator]Manuel Antonio Noriega when he was clinging to power, in the same way, that today there are others clinging to the "specialty."

 Kozak even gave Noriega an ultimatum in 1988 to step down from power. But the general made it very clear to the gringo that his motto "Not one step back" was serious. So - more words, fewer words - Noriega fired him: I'm in charge here. Months later, Noriega realized that Kozak wasn't bluffing. Surely the   general regretted it, but it was "too late."

And since they say that history repeats itself in a spiral, it is worth remembering what Kozak, the negotiator, warned this week: “We do have consequences for individuals who are corrupt. Under US law, visas can be denied to them and their family members. Sometimes we impose sanctions to try to recover ill-gotten goods. Yes there are consequences for governments too… ”. If they did not understand this part of the interview on Radio Panama either, surely future events will open their eyes,but, as happened with Noriega, repentance will come, once again … too late



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Justice on Hold for Feudal Lord


Posted 09/08/2020

In commemoration of the birth of Justo Arosemena, today the National Lawyer's Day is celebrated. This day is also the first anniversary of that “not guilty” decision of the Trial Court in the case ordinarily known as “punctures”. One year later, the crimes go unpunished; the victims, defenseless; the procurator, replaced, and the great feudal lord, showing off everything he can do with his money. In the time that has elapsed, the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice has not resolved the appeals that are known to it.

This case has been, to date, the most important of the last decades for Panamanian justice, for which the Court must verify that, beyond any doubt, the norms and criteria of due process were complied with. They have had plenty of time to fulfill their obligation. The prosecutor who would have been responsible for following the litigation was transferred to other ag.ssignments by the attorney general of the Nation, who seems to take everything lightly. The country needs the three magistrates to set an example of unquestionable integrity and impeccable administration of justice. - LA PRENSA, Aug. 9



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Former First Lady appeals to  Guatemala president over sons’ extradition


Posted 09/08/2020

 Hours after a high-level US State Department official had warned that there would be “consequences” for Panamanians linked to corruption in the US, those, former first lady, Marta Linares de Martinelli, went to the Guatemalan embassy in Panama to send her "concerns" to the country’s president  Alejandro Giammattei, about her sons, Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares detained since July 6. in a  Guatemala prison awaiting extradition request to the United States, where they face charges of an alleged conspiracy to launder money linked to  Odebrecht and other crimes which could carry sentences totaling 50 years.

On Friday, August 7 the Fifth Criminal Sentencing Court of Guatemala ordered the start of the extradition process of Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares.

The same court granted a period of up to 40 days for the United States to present the formal request for extradition and the supporting documents

Meanwhile, the extradition process followed by Ricardo Alberto is being settled in the Third Criminal Sentencing Court, which has not yet released a decision.



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Appeals against Martinelli “not guilty” ruling in limbo


Posted 09/08/2020

A year after a court declared ex-president Ricardo Martinelli "not guilty" of political espionage and embezzlement, the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court has not admitted  appeals filed by the plaintiffs' lawyers and the Public Ministry

On August 9, 2019, the  judges Roberto Tejeira , Arlene Caballero and Raúl Vergara , declared Martinelli “not guilty.

The plaintiffs (Juan Carlos Navarro, Mauro Zúñiga, Rosendo Rivera, Mitchell Doens, Balbina Herrera and Rubén Polanco) and the then Prosecutor against Organized Crime, Ricaurte González, announced the presentation of appeals.

The legal actions began  on September 16, 2019, when the prosecutor González and the lawyer Rosendo Rivera , presented the appeals before the Criminal Chamber

The resources were in the hands of Wilfredo Sáenz, but in December his appointment as substitute magistrate expired and he left office. Then the speaker was Maribel Cornejo, who arrived at the Court in January 2020.

Cornejo decided to develop her own project,  but to date, there have been no details of its possible content reports La Prensa.

Rosendo Rivera, victim and complainant, considered that a year after the decision of the trial court, the Criminal Chamber has had enough time to decide the admissibility of the appeals.

He said that given what is happening internationally in relation to Martinelli and his two children (detained in Guatemala awaiting extradition to the US ) a statement from the authorities is necessary.

Carlos Herrera Morán, Mauro Zúñiga's lawyer, said the delay is inexcusable. He said that his office sent two emails to the Criminal Chamber, requesting a prompt decision.

Nicomedes Castillo, the lawyer for Juan Carlos Navarro, was optimistic about the appeals.

He considered as an important fact the declaration of senior officials of the United States government, such as Michael Kozak, undersecretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, regarding their interest in having corruption cases in the region prosecuted with the full weight of the law.

Carlos Carrillo, from Martinelli's legal team, said the court's ruling revealed "the manipulation and use of power in handling the investigations that were made to accuse him."

In the puncture case there were two convictions: the former directors of the National Security Council, Gustavo Pérez and Alejandro Garuz. The Sixteenth Criminal Court imposed 50 months in prison on each one, as primary accomplices in the crime against freedom, "in its modality of crimes against the inviolability of secrecy and the right to privacy." Both appealed, but the sentence was upheld by the Second Court of Justice.



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Ex-Martinelli cohort lifts lid on newspaper deal


The Epasa offices

Posted 10/08/2020

The former president of Editora Panamá América, SA (Epasa) Ricardo Chanis has provided  the Public Ministry  with details  of how Ricardo Martinelli and Henri Mizrachi bought the publishing house which publishes Panama America and La Critica although Martinelli controls a TV station and owning a daily newspaper  is forbidden

The deal took place  in 2010 while  Martinelli was president and is now the focus of a criminal investigation  involving the use of government funds known as “New Business.” Lawyer Chanis, made his statements to criminal prosecutors in February.

When it comes to freedom, each one looks out for himself says La Prensa and Ricardo Chanis  has begun to distance himself from Martinelli.

The purchase of Epasa involved the disbursement of some $47 million, which included the cash payment of a debt of Epasa - of $12.5 million - to the General Bank, which Martinelli paid as a "shareholder loan,".

The purchase required a financial architecture in which, according to Chanis, Global Bank intervened directly, that by 2011, two Epasa shareholders - including Martinelli - controlled almost 25% of the shares of that bank, said Chanis. The corporate maneuvers submerged the new owners of Epasa under layers and layers of corporate entities, hiding their identities.

Accused of money laundering in the New Business case, Chanis has revealed details of the purchase and sale of Epasa, according to the Public Ministry, part of the payment was made with public funds contributed by state contractors.

Chanis began by saying that he knew that $34.1 million would be paid for Epasa, but that he did not know the origin of those funds.

He also said he knew that at that price it was necessary to add a debt that Epasa maintained with Banco General, of $ 12.5 million. In total, according to Chanis, $ 46.6 million were disbursed in the purchase-sale operation of the publishing house.

The lawyer claimed that he was contacted in November 2010 by Henri Mizrachi Kohen, whom, until then, he did not know personally. Mizrachi asked him for legal advice to buy Epasa. He accepted, although his role was not limited to that of an advisor.

Chanis provided the Public Ministry with emails and multiple documents on the purchase of the company, companies created for this purpose, as well as communications with the Global Bank, which approved a loan to complete the millionaire disbursement.

The lawyer stated that he was not expected to be a member of the Epasa board, but that Mizrachi asked him - shortly before the sale was completed, on December 21, 2010.

Although Mizrachi endorsed Chanis the presidency of Epasa –and the position of treasurer–, the businessman had no problem occupying the position of secretary of the board, together with Alberto Esquenazi, as director.

Chanis distances himself from both by ensuring that, although he served on that board, he did so as an "independent".



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Appeals against Martinelli “not guilty” hearing head to lower court


Posted 11/08/2020

The Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court announced on Monday, September 10 that it will not accept appeals  for annulment of a “not guilty” ruling for former President Ricardo Martinelli in the illegal wiretapping case.

The Chamber decided not to admit the appeal presented by the legal representatives of Balbina Herrera , Mauro Zúñiga and Mitchell Doens.

It also declared that it is not competent to recognize the annulment appeal filed by the prosecutor Ricaurte González . For this reason, it returns the action to the Court of Appeal of the First Judicial District.

The Court also declares itself not competent to recognize the annulment appeal imposed by the legal representatives of Rosendo Rivera, Rubén Polanco, and Juan Carlos Navarro The action is also returned to the First Court of Appeal.



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Así marcha el proceso de extradición de los Martinelli Linares

El caso de Luis Enrique sigue en un tribunal, en espera de alguna acción legal de su defensa, y el de Ricardo Alberto depende de que se resuelva un amparo.
Redacción de La Prensa
13 ago 2020 - 12:00 AM


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Panama free to prosecute Martinelli  says US security advisor


A bad news day for Martinelli

Posted 17/08/2020

Panama is free to investigate former president Ricardo Martinelli who claims to be protected by the 1904 Extradition Treaty, signed between the United States and Panama, due to the principle of specialty says visiting US National Security Advisor, Robert O’Brien reinforcing previous pronouncements by the State Department and the US Embassy in Panama.

Martinelli is facing nearly a dozen criminal investigations including money laundering and Odebrecht.

 in an interview with La Prensa  O’Brien said: “As the United States government has already stated, Panama is free to investigate Mr. Martinelli without the need to obtain an exception to the rule of the specialty principle from the United States. The decision depends on the Panamanian justice system.”

“The United States and Panama have established a Task Force to prevent money laundering and corruption. This will be made up of Panamanian prosecutors, the justice system, and industry regulators who will be trained and advised by FBI personnel. This group will attack money laundering networks and their ability to investigate, stop, and prosecute crimes related to money laundering and acts of corruption will be strengthened. Its focus will be primarily those areas that are of greatest concern to both the United States and Panama, including the Colon Free Zone. This will also be a tool aimed at fighting corruption and guaranteeing judicial prosecution of those who steal State resources …. The Anti-Money Laundering and Corruption Task Force will assist with the fight against corruption by investigating anyone who attempts to launder assets derived from corruption activities said, O’Brien

Press freedom
Questioned about attacks on several media outlets in the region including La Prensa, which was recently the subject of a judicial kidnapping as part of a lawsuit filed by former President Ernesto Pérez Balladares) for having made publications related to alleged acts of corruption O’Brien said: “Freedom of the press is essential for a healthy democracy, this is a principle that we strongly share with Panama. An independent press is vital to ensuring the exchange of information and ideas that are key to a free, prosperous and safe society. Any attempt to undermine freedom of the press is a threat to democratic institutions. We would be distressed to know that there are attacks against freedom of the press or abuses of power.” ( The US revoked the visa of Pérez Balladares when he left office.)

Asked if  the United States be willing to punish politicians like Ricardo Martinelli, who has been accused of corruption, money laundering, and other crimes, as they have done in Venezuela and Nicaragua. O’Brien said:"At this time, the US government does not have any announcements to make regarding sanctions.

ernment does not have any announcements to make regarding sanctions.



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Abogado añade pruebas en denuncia contra Ricardo Martinelli

Juan Manuel Díaz
18 ago 2020 - 10:42 PM


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Recursos paralizan la extradición de los Martinelli Linares a Estados Unidos

Redacción de La Prensa 
20 ago 2020 - 12:40 PM


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Martinelli named in multi-million bribery probe


Posted 20/08/2020

An investigating court of the Special Prosecutor's Office Against Corruption and Organized Crime of Spain sent a document to the Central Court on July 2, in a  process against FCC, in which it makes damning revelations in the bribery case involving scores of millions of dollars and fingering high-level officials in the Ricardo Martinelli administration including the ex-president.

The document says that the Judicial Police presented an analysis of one of the accounts of Mauricio Cort, a local lawyer hired by FCC for alleged legal services. Cort was, in fact, a collector of bribes, who channeled them through a company of his - Arados del Plata - to the final recipients. These funds were provided by FCC, among other companies, after overvaluing works in Panama.

Cort justified the money received, arguing that FCC made payments for professional services. The document shows that the analysis presented by the Judicial Police deals with their accounts at Mizrahi Bank in Israel  “which, reveals that between 2011 and  2014 the accounts were nurtured by two main payers who jointly contributed $71 million to their accounts ” reports La Prensa.

Thus, FCC contributed $65.3 million, while the Spanish company Telvent Traffic and Transport added another $5.5 million. Of this total –between 2012 and 2015– these accounts made 18 transfers for a total of $43.3 million to a set of recipients, among which “there are 11 related to the family of the former president Ricardo Martinelli and politicians from his administration ”.

Among those named are  “ Federico Suárez, Minister of Public Works (MOP) Jorge Ruiz, Director of Procurement of the MOP,  and Guillermo Saiz Llorens, director of the Social Security Fund”.

"All of them presumably participated - the document indicates - in the collection of 10% of commissions from the contractors who were awarded Line 1 and 2 of the Panama Metro and the works of the City of Health", originally known as "Hospital City".

It adds "the sending of funds from Mauricio Cort's accounts to the Los Andes Promoter and Development company, of which the Minister of Public Works and the Director of the Social Security Fund were also part." The company had among its directors Ricardo Martinelli, Suárez, and Sáiz Llorens.

Of these accounts - he indicates to the Special Prosecutor's Office Against Corruption and Organized Crime of Spain - “the income in favor of Martinelli and his circle of close friends, either directly by transfer of funds or by participating in real estate and property investments, amounted to $36 million

The note indicates that “in the case of the authorities of the Ministry of Public Works, the Judicial Police identifies a direct relationship between Mauricio Cort with the accounts of the companies Treasure Island Development and HB Engineering, Corp., while the real beneficiary would be Jorge Ruiz Sánchez, who, , was responsible for the administration of MOP contracts between 2009 and 2012 - Martinelli Administration ”.

The list of relevant events continues with the sending of "funds from Mauricio Cort's accounts to Raúl de Saint Malo, brother of the vice president of Panama in the administration of Juan Carlos Varela, The relationship of Raúl Saint Malo with the brothers Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares/

The note adds that it wants to confirm operations to buy boats and a helicopter by Saint Malo, and payments in favor of a company of the Martinelli brothers through which real estate was purchased in Madrid.

The Spanish authorities seek to collect information from Panama, to reveal whether funds from Cort - sent through Swiss banks and nurtured by almost 85% of the money contributed by FCC - were those used to finance real estate operations and acquisitions with members of the Martinelli family or figures from their administration who awarded the contracts with Odebrecht and FCC

The document adds that Cort's accounts at Mizrahi Bank reveal the business relationships with real estate companies in which Cort participated with unidentified third parties. "The capital injection in these businesses appears to have come largely from Mauricio Cort, thus reproducing a typical laundering pattern."



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Martinelli seeks return to power with new party


Posted 25/08/2020

Former President Ricardo Martinelli’s latest attempt to rebuild his political power base, which fell apart as the CD party he founded, funded and led, split apart, resumed at the Electoral Tribunal on Monday with the procedures for the formation of the "Realizing Goals" political party.

When the TE restarted the services for processes for pending political parties,  closed since March by the Covid-19 pandemic, his legal team was first in line to present the corrected requirements and continue with the collective formation process.

In  February, the Tribunal did not endorse the request for the formation of the new party and asked the former ruler, among other things, to change the name of the group, which was previously called “Los Martinellistas”.

Spokesman  Luis Eduardo Camacho, went to the Court's headquarters with a group of lawyers, explained that they requested the reactivation of the procedures in search of the start of the signature collection process.

"We are in the stage of presentation of requirements," he explained and said he was sure that when the TE endorsed the delivery of books they will be able to collect the 39,296 signatures that will consolidate the new political party. The corrected documents must be reviewed and if they are in order, published in a newspaper with national circulation and the Electoral Bulletin.

The former president, his relatives and supporters left Cambio Democrático (CD) due to differences with the members of the board led by Rómulo Roux .

Since CD was created in May 1998, Martinelli had been its sole president. This changed on January 21, 2018, when Roux won the leadership.



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No admiten acción de inconstitucionalidad a favor de Ricardo Martinelli

El recurso fue presentado contra una decisión del exmagistado Jerónimo Mejía, como juez de garantías.
Juan Manuel Díaz C.
28 ago 2020 - 12:00 AM


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Supreme Court rejects Martinelli unconstitutionality claim


Posted 28/08/2020

Panama’s  Supreme Court has rejected a claim of presented by former President Ricardo Martinelli, against a decision adopted on July 4, 2018 by the then magistrate Jerónimo Mejía, acting as a judge of guarantees in the illegal wiretapping case.

With the decision, Mejía denied an appeal for annulment filed by the  Marinelli defense tat appealed to his immunity as a deputy of the Central American Parliament (Parlacen) .

In the ruling, dated July 31, 2020, under the presentation of Judge Asunción Alonso, the Court concluded that Martinelli's defense did not explain in a clear manner what the alleged constitutional violation consisted of and, instead, only presented general allegations.

Carlos Carrillo, from Martinelli'sbattery of lawyers, was in charge of filing the unconstitutionality lawsuit against Mejía's decision not to accept the appeal for annulment filed during the intermediate phase of the wiretap process.

Carrillo alleged that his client, because he was a Parlacen deputy at that time, had his fundamental rights violated,.

Martinelli resigned from Parlacen in June 2018.

On December 7, 2018, the plenary session of the Supreme Court declined its jurisdiction, as having ceased to be a member of Parlacen, the process had to be reviewed by a trial court of the First Judicial District of Panama.

However, Martinelli's defense argued then that by not respecting his immunity as a Parlacen deputy, the case should have been declared void.

On August 9, 2019, a trial court declared Martinelli "not guilty."

On July 31, the Criminal Chamber of the Court did not admit an appeal for cassation filed by plaintiffs and declined jurisdiction in two appeals for annulment with the concurrence of cassation, which have yet to be resolved, reports La Prensa.



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Pedido de extradición de los hermanos Martinelli es válido

El juez Óscar Carrasquilla negó un recurso de la defensa de los Martinelli que señalaba que la fiscalía había violado el debido proceso.
Juan Manuel Díaz C.
30 ago 2020 - 11:28 PM


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Moderator comment: I suspect the title of this article should start out as "Leash shortens...".


Lease shortens as extradition request for Martinelli sons ruled valid


Posted 31/08/2020

The request to  the United States to extradite the brothers Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares , accused of money laundering, is in accordance with the law and the procedure can continue ruled   Twelfth Criminal Court Judge Óscar Carrasquilla when rejecting an appeal for annulment by  the defense

The sons of former president Ricardom Martinelli have been held in  a Guatemala prison since July 6 as a result of an extradition request from the United States, after they left that country, where they are wanted  for alleged conspiracy to launder money and money laundering linked to Odebrecht.

The Court rejected an annulment incident presented by the defense to nullify the extradition request made by the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office to the United States when both were in that country.

In a ruling dated August 19, 2020, Judge Óscar Carrasquilla denied an incident to declare the investigation carried out against the Martinelli Linares brothers null, arguing that the prosecution did not have the power to issue an arrest warrant for the purposes of extradition against his clients.

The appeal, presented by the Carlos Carrillo Gomila, maintains that the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office was not empowered to carry out the criminal action, since this was only the authority of the judge who heard the case.

The Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office, when opposing the appeal held that this case began on December 22, 2016, so that its processing was carried out under the rules of the mixed inquisitorial system and not under the rules of the criminal. accusatory system.

Therefore, in this case, article 2497 of the Judicial Code is applicable , in which it is stated “ that the extradition of people claimed by Panamanian authorities will be managed through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the request of the judge who issued the order. of prosecution or sentence, or of the corresponding official in charge of the investigation of the process for the crime in question ”.

The Carrasquilla ruling, in addition to agreeing with the prosecutor adds that a ruling by the Criminal Chamber, under the presentation of former magistrate Jerónimo Mejía, details that all cases in which it has not been initiated will be processed under the Criminal Procedure Code and that this provision began to take effect as of January 1, 2018.

The investigations involving the Martinelli brothers began on December 22, 2016, after a legal assistance requested by the Swiss authorities revealed the possible link between the two of them with the alleged receipt of funds from the structured operations department of Odebrecht. Through this department, according to company executives, bribes were managed.

On January 23, 2017, the prosecution charged the Martinelli brothers, after investigations carried out in Brazil, the United States and Switzerland into the payment of bribes by Odebrecht, identified them as involved in the case.

On March 11, 2019, the Supreme Court rejected a constitutional guarantee protection.

The Court determined that the prosecution did not violate the fundamental guarantees of both investigated, after a red alert was issued through Interpol for their arrest.



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The Martinelli era corruption underbelly


Ricardo Martinelli Linares

Posted 01/09/2020

In a detailed recap of  the Blue Apple and FCC corruption cases plodding their way through the flawed  Panama justice system, La Prensa highlights some high rolling characters whose names constantly crop up in parallel investigations.

They  include Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares , son of former President Ricardo Martinelli, and  Mauricio Cort, lawyer,  and bribery collector, according to already implicated persons   and : Jorge El Churro Ruiz, former director of Contract Administration at the Ministry of Public Works (MOP).

Eugenio del Barrio former regional director of FCC and Julio Casla - who confessed how FCC paid bribes of millions of dollars to Panamanian officials - frequently mentioned Cort, a recommended  to FCC by former MOP boss  Federico José Suárez to FCC.

El Churro was perhaps a second-rate civil servant, but he was first-rate in the bribery business, says La Prensa. He  was the front man for Ricardo Martinelli Linares, according to the activities he himself described in another investigation carried out by the Public Ministry: Blue Apple.

In his confession to the prosecutors, El Churro said  that “at the end of 2010, I was contacted by Rica [Ricardo Alberto] Martinelli, the son of President Martinelli, and he told me in his office in Monte Oscuro about an operation of some contractors , which at that time had won bids in the Ministry of Public Works. This operation initially consisted in that I had to give a series of instructions to the contractors Rodsa, Bagatrac, Meco, GS Contractor and Conalvías, that he would give me instructions in advance, regarding where to send money, otherwise there would be difficult stuff...".

The method consisted of pressuring companies with threats –as Cort did with FCC– until they were convinced to hand over money extracted from the State coffers, by overpricing each of their public works, addenda or any money owed. Casla, the Spanish sais : “It was an imposition [the payment of 10% of bribery] that was transmitted to us, and that, if we did not access it, we would not collect what was owed to us and it would make it difficult for us to process all the files, and ultimately we would not be able to work in Panama again ”.

But Ruiz was more than a collector. Soon he climbed to front man. He said that he was “called by 'Rica' Martinelli […] to open a bank account abroad to receive the money that the contractors Rodsa, Bagatrac, Meco, GS Contractor and Conalvías would send, and after giving me instructions on what to do with said money, I want to comment that at that time I opened two accounts abroad, with Panamanian companies, created at my request by the law firm of. Mauricio Cort, one of them is HB Engineering, Corp. and the other Treasure Island and Development, SA The accounts were opened in Switzerland, at the Mizrachi Bank [sic] ”.

On July 2, the Special Prosecutor's Office against Corruption and Organized Crime of the National Court of Spain requested help from Panama on the accounts managed by Cort in the bank mentioned by El Churro Ruiz: the Mizrahi Bank, with branches in Panama and Switzerland.

In these accounts, Cort received –between 2011 and 2014– $70.9 million, the majority from FCC: $65.4 million, and another $5.5 million from Telvent Traffic and Transport, a company that in 2007 was hired to install 210 smart traffic lights, for, at least, $22.3 million. The project was a failure.

The Spanish Judicial Police discovered that, of 18 transfers made between 2012 and 2015 in the Mizrahi Bank, “there are 11 related to the family of the former president of Panama Ricardo Martinelli and to relevant politicians of his administration, such as Federico Suárez, Minister of Public Works, Jorge Ruiz, Director of Contracts at the MOP, Guillermo Saez Llorens, Director of the Social Security Fund ”.

He also noted a direct relationship between Cort and the accounts of the companies HB Engineering, Corp. and Treasure Island and Development. On paper, the final beneficiary of these companies was El Churro .

Ruiz confessed that “that company I had it set up on the instructions of Ricardo Martinelli Linares, to receive payments from some contractors, payments that he would tell me who to ask and how much to ask, and then follow his instructions on what to do with those payments or funds. I want to emphasize that Mr. Ricardo Martinelli Linares told me to open an account in Switzerland and I opened two accounts with two different companies, but with the same function, these companies are HB Engineering and Treasure Island ”.

"I instructed the contractors Rodsa, Bagatrac, Meco, GS Contractor and Conalvías to send 'X' amount to the accounts that he ['Rica' Martinelli] sent me to open ..." , Ruiz stressed. between 2011 and 2012, El Churro counted more than $12 million for these companies. He even had notes on transactions for millions of dollars other than these companies, but ordered by Martinelli Linares.

Cort’s role
Another protagonist of these investigations is the lawyer Cort. And although he is not one of those accused in Blue Apple, his name repeats  on bank accounts and companies linked to the scandal. Cort was also a key player in the laundering of assets from Odebrecht's Box 2, for which he was convicted. Thelawyer is the link  that unites three of the biggest corruption scandals in Panamanian history.

Eugenio del Barrio, , explained that, regarding the works with the MOP, his interlocutor was Cort, “although we held meetings with [the minister] Suárez and Cort, and later with Cort and Jorge Ruiz, “.

Cort's mercantile structure was the vehicle for laundering the money that his clients received “The commissions were demanded by Cort, who always said that they were due to requests from Minister Suárez, in works of the MOP, and they were demanded with each payment that the MOP made us and, thus, the moment we received a payment, there was a siege. Cort continued so that we could pay him the amount of the commission corresponding to that payment ... ”, explained del Barrio.



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Martinelli stalling motions rejected by criminal judge


Judge óscar carrasquilla

Posted 02/09/2020

The  stalling tactics of the defense team of former President Ricardo Martinelli were slapped down by Twelfth Criminal Judge, Óscar Carrasquilla when he rejected three challenges presented by Martinelli, in an attempt to remove the anti-corruption prosecutor, Tania Sterling, from the investigation into the bribes that Odebrecht paid in Panama.

The judge also warned that the defense must "agree" on the legal actions it takes, "in such a way that they are not repetitive to the detriment of the administration of justice," says a press release from the Judicial Branch on Wednesday, September 2.

Carrasquilla based his decision on the fact that the challenges were presented after the defense of Martinelli took steps in favor of the former president. Additionally, they did not specify which of the 17 causes established by article 760 of the Judicial Code, has been committed by the prosecutor Sterling.

In case of referring to point 11 of article 760, which indicates as a cause of impediment that any of the parties has a process or complaint against the judge or prosecutor, within the previous two years, Carrasquilla remarks that Sterling has been instructing the Odebrecht file from the beginning of 2017, "being its knowledge prior to the filing of the complaint."

The three challenges were filed by Roniel Ortiz and Shirley Castañedas, from Martinelli's legal team. They argue in their briefs that Sterling is impeded for various reasons, such as that she participated in the extradition process of the former president from the United States to Panama, which ended on June 11, 2018, or that she does not recognize the 60-day certificate of a medical disability, presented by Martinelli.

Sterling has been trying to investigate the former president since July 2.

The Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office has until the second week of October to conclude the investigation since on that date the five-month extension granted by the First Superior Court expires.



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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to What's Next for Ricardo Martinelli and His Family

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