From the Presidencia’s archive, the Martinellis in more prosperous times when Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal, center, ran the Panamanian government. On the left side of the photo is Ricardo Martinelli Linares and on the right Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares. The Martinelli Linares brothers, trying to flee the United States in a plane, were arrested in Guatemala and after a fight, extradited to the USA. Eventually they pleaded guilty to laundering Odebrecht bribes and at their sentencings in a Brooklyn federal district court said that they did it at their father’s behest. Having served their US federal time, they were deported back here. Now the brothers — but not the father — face money laundering charges in the Blue Apple case, which did not include the Odebrecht transactions.
A slightly extended break for Baloisa Marquínez
by Eric Jackson
As expected in a case related to the Martinellis, two of the lawyers moved to delay. One submitted a doctor’s note, the other pleaded a pre-existing conflicting trial date. The Blue Apple trial will not start on Monday, but rather in late August. At that date no more delays will be granted.
This is another case in which the allegation is overpriced public works contracts being skimmed for the ultimate benefit of then-president Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal. It is said to have been set up by the former president’s personal secretary, Adolfo “Chichi” De Obarrio. The alleged mastermind operative, a dual Panamanian and Italian citizen, fled to Italy, from whence he can’t be legally extradited. In response Marquínez invoked the en rebeldía doctrine that excepts certain fugitives from the general ban on trials in absentia, tried Chichi in his absence and sentenced him to 10 years in prison last March. It’s time to be served if ever Panamanian justice is able to lay hands on the former gofer.
(A culturally fun comparison can be and has been made between De Obarrio and Smithers, Mr. Burns’s lackey in The Simpsons. However, as the former president is not particularly known to be a dog person, it is unlikely that he ever issued the command “Chichi — release the hounds!”)
The upcoming trial is of 27 individuals on various charges of corruption of public officials, money laundering and conspiracy to do these things. The three star defendants, on the politically connected side, are former minister of public works Federico Suárez and the Martinelli Linares brothers, sons of the ex-president. Prominent defendants from the private sector are former factoring company executive Joaquín Rodríguez and attorney Federico Barrios, the latter the legal representative of the Blue Apple factoring company..
Factoring is a financial service especially applicable to companies that do business with governments that are slow to pay, essentially lending money based on submitted and approved pending bills.
The prosecution alleges that Blue Apple was not an ordinary factoring company, but rather was created specifically for the purpose of laundering bribes and kickbacks. It is said that more than $78 million was illegally diverted from the public treasury to Ricardo Martinelli and his confederates through a variety of strategies using Blue Apple:
Graphics by the Public Ministry, several attorneys general ago. This case has been underway since 2017.
So, what of Judge Marquínez’s other two recently conclude high-profile trials with political connotations? The New Business courtroom drama ended on June 3, with the judge saying that she’s take the statutory 30 days to make a decision. That month has come and gone, but depending on the size of the file judges get an extension. It’s a huge file, and Marquínez could take nearly a year, but some commentators say that the decision has just been delayed a few days so as not to interfere with tomorrow’s Cambio Democratico primary. The month has yet to pass in the other complex trial, that of Mossack & Fonseca attorneys and alleged accomplices for setting up shell companies for the Brazilian-based Odebrecht construction company to launder bribes.
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