• Maibort Petit

Son of Former President Pleads Guilty to International Bribery and Money Laundering

Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares, 39, a citizen of Panama and Italy, pleaded guilty this Thursday in the Eastern District of New York before US District Judge Raymond J. Dearie for laundering $ 28 million in connection with a massive bribery scheme and money laundering involving Odebrecht SA, a Brazil-based global construction conglomerate.

by Maibort Petit

Freedom Voice

photo of Luis Linares arrested
Son of Former President of Panama Pleads Guilty to International Bribery and Money Laundering

According to court documents, the Odebrecht scheme involved the payment of more than $700 million in bribes to government officials, public servants, political parties in Panama and other countries around the world to obtain and retain business for the Brazilian company.

On December 21, 2016, Odebrecht pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of New York to a criminal conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) for its participation in a bribery and money laundering scheme.

Luis Martinelli Linares admitted that he agreed with his brother Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares and others to establish offshore bank accounts in the name of shell companies to receive and disguise more than $28 million in bribes from Odebrecht for the benefit of his close relative, a high-ranking public official. rank in Panama. To advance the plan, Luis Martinelli Linares agreed with others to have Odebrecht's bribery funds in and out of the United States, and used part of the proceeds of the plan to buy a yacht and condo in Miami, United States.

Luis Martinelli Linares pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. It also agreed to a forfeiture amount of approximately $ 18.9 million.

Judge Dearie scheduled Martinelli Linares' sentencing for May 20, 2022. The defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Judge Dearie will determine any sentence after considering the US Sentencing Guidelines issued by the North American Congress and other legal factors.

Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares was arrested, along with his brother Luis Martinelli Linares, at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala on July 6, 2020, pursuant to a request for provisional arrest from the United States when they attempted to leave Guatemala in a private plane.

The Martinelli Linares brothers were indicted on February 4, 2021 in a five-count indictment in connection with this bribery and money laundering scheme.

The United States continues its efforts to have Ricardo Martinelli Linares extradited to the United States to face justice.

photo of Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares
Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Department of Justice's Criminal Division, United States Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York, and Acting Deputy Director Jay Greenberg of the FBI's Criminal Investigation Division were present at the hearing held this Thursday in the Eastern District Court of New York.


Maibort Petit is a Venezuelan writer, researcher and political scientist specialized in Transnational Organized Crime. Based in New York, she works for various Hispanic media outlets and as a consultant for various firms in New York and Washington DC

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