In this Odebrecht case money, family and political ties didn’t work

OOOOI! It was thuggery on the high seas! Raúl de Saint Malo, his photo via social media.

Prison for Varela VP’s brother for washing Odebrecht cash with the Martinellis

by Eric Jackson

Judge Angeline Hernández wasn’t buying it. Launder millions in bribes from the Brazilian construction consortium Odebrecht for favors from the Martinelli regime through a company formed with former President Martinelli’s two sons, the money being routed through the Bahamas and used in Germany to buy three bunker fuel tankers and a helicopter, get caught — and then ask for community service TEACHING YOUNG PEOPLE? Nope. Go to jail, five years’ worth.

It seems that most of the more than $70 million that went through the cash wash tubes has been seized by European authorities — lawyers for the fugitive Martinellis are arguing about that — but for his part De Saint Malo is sentenced to pay $3.7 million in fines and restitution.

It would have been an occasion for the jurist to delve into the meanings of chutzpah. However, what she said was that community service was inappropriate given the nature and magnitude of the crime, a teaching job would not in any way equate with time behind bars as punishment, and in any case Raúl de Saint Malo could not show the proper academic credentials to teach at the Maritime University of Panama as he proposed to do instead of going to prison.

WHAT?!? No rabiblanco goes to prison for money laundering in Panama! Especially not with an illustrious surname like De Saint Malo, a sister like Isabel De Saint Malo De Alvarado, who was vice president and foreign minister in the Varela administration, and partners in crime like the untouchable so far Martinelli family.

  • The ugly stains go farther and deeper. Consider:

    Do we usually hear of the legal travails of ordinary people in more or less real time? Raúl de Saint Malo made his guilty plea last March, the sentence was handed down in mid-July, and the courts and prosecutors maintained silence about it until just now.

  • The prosecution ACCEPTED the proffer of community service instead of prison time. It was the judge who balked.
  • UMIP is a state institution. And to keep a well connected money launderer out of prison, they were offering a teaching position to a convicted criminal without the academic credentials?
  • Where are the partners in crime? They’re circulating at large in the United States, having made bail for being there illegally. Too white for ICE to bother, perhaps.
  • While protesters shout and recognized by the rabiblanco media “leaders of civil society” say unusually strident things for men and women of their positions in the wake of the widely denounced acquittal of Ricky Martinelli, the latter is taking victory struts around shopping malls, threatening to punch out his successor as president,
  • The Martinelli camp also PRD legislator Zulay Rodríguez working on a plan to amend election laws to have a special election for suplente to deputy Mayín Correa, which Ricky Martinelli could win. He’d get legislative immunity if that happens, and the main seat if Mayín resigns. Leave it to Zulay to be simultaneously shrieking about how Attorney General Kenia Porcell — who just got more bank records about Zulay’s and her colleagues’ peculations from Comptroller General Federico Humbert — is taking dives on prosecuting Odebrecht.

This case is outside the norms in many respects. That said, the norm is that a guy with a surname like De Saint Malo does his time in El Renacer near Gamboa — the “easiest” of Panama’s prisons, not so nearly as hellish as, say, La Joya — and is granted parole at first opportunity.


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