Panama has asked Interpol to issue an international alert for the arrest of two sons of former president Ricardo Martinelli on allegations they accepted bribes from disgraced Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht. The request by the country’s special anti-corruption prosecutor, Tania Sterling, was dated February 1 and published Monday in local media. A source in the investigation confirmed the information to AFP. The request targets sons Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares. Their father, a wealthy businessman who held office from 2009 to 2014, lives in voluntary exile in the United States. Panamanian prosecutors are probing him on separate charges of corruption and spying on opponents.
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A lawyer for the sons, Carlos Carrillo, told AFP that, as of last Friday, there was no public indication of an Interpol order against his clients. Media reports quoting sources close to the investigation said Martinelli’s sons are suspected of receiving more than USD 20 million from Odebrecht through offshore companies.
The Brazilian company has admitted to paying USD 788 million in bribes to win fat construction contracts in 12 countries. It has agreed with the US Justice Department to pay a world record USD 3.5-billion fine. Odebrecht’s bribes in Panama, paid between 2010 and 2014, totaled USD 59 million.
The ex-president’s brother, Mario Martinelli, and several officials from that time are among 17 people being investigated in relation to the case.