Sons of former Panamanian president released from US prison | News about corruption

The two brothers are expected to return to Panama on Wednesday, where they and their father face corruption charges.

Two sons of former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli are expected to return to the country after serving prison terms in the United States for their involvement in an international corruption scandal.

Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares and Ricardo Martinelli Linares are scheduled to arrive in Panama on Wednesday evening after being released earlier in the day, shortly before the end of their three-year prison sentences in the US.

They were convicted of conspiring to launder millions of dollars in bribes for the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.

This August, the brothers are due to go on trial again, this time in Panama, for their involvement in the scandal while their father was in office between 2009 and 2014. The brothers admitted to accepting $28 million in bribes from the construction group, which about 19 million dollars passed through American accounts.

Their father, the elder Martinelli, is also awaiting trial on money-laundering charges in the Odebrecht case, but has said he will run for president again in 2024. Another former president, Juan Carlos Varela, is also due to go on trial in August, which includes charges against 36 people.

In 2016, the construction company Odebrecht admitted to paying about $788 million in bribes between 2001 and 2016 to win contracts in Panama and 11 other countries. He paid a $3.5 billion fine.

In December 2021, two Martinelli brothers pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering after being extradited from Guatemala to the US. They were detained in Guatemala for 23 months before being extradited.

They were sentenced to three years in prison in the US last May, but were released on Wednesday after serving a total of about two and a half years, including the time they spent in pre-sentence custody. The AFP news agency reported that the early release of the brothers was a result of good behavior.

Their return to Panama is being watched closely, especially as the trial in August approaches. Panamanian Attorney General Javier Caraballo issued a statement Tuesday calling on the brothers to face justice in the country.

The brothers posted $14 million in advance bail to avoid prison in Panama while they await trial on money laundering and corruption charges.

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