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Martinelli Brothers Sentenced To Prison In Connection With Odebrecht Bribery Scheme


As highlighted here, in November 2021 announced the unsealing of a 2020 criminal complaint against agents associated with Odebrecht in connection with the company’s 2016 FCPA enforcement action (see here for the prior post).

Brothers Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares and Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares (both citizens of Panama and Italy and the sons of former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli) allegedly “participated in the Odebrecht bribery scheme by, among other things, serving as intermediaries for bribe payments and the provision of other things of value that Odebrecht offered and provided to the Panama Government Official (their father). The complaint alleged that, among other things, the defendants “established offshore bank accounts in the names of offshore shell companies to receive and disguise bribe payments from Odebrecht made for the benefit of the Panama Government Official.

The brothers pleaded guilty and were recently sentenced to 36 months in prison and were ordered to forfeit more than $18.8 million, pay a $250,000 fine, and serve two years’ supervised release. (See here for the DOJ release).

In the release, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite stated:

“Ricardo and Luis Martinelli Linares directed millions of dollars in bribes through U.S. banks to their own Swiss accounts in order to help Odebrecht gain corrupt influence at the highest levels of the Panamanian government. [These] sentences show that the Department of Justice remains committed to prosecuting individuals who enable and profit from laundering corrupt payments to foreign officials through the U.S. financial system, as well as those who attempt to spend the proceeds of corruption in the United States.”

U.S. Attorney for the E.D. of New York Breon Peace stated:

“The Martinelli brothers used American banks to commit their selfish, greedy fraud – and now it is the American legal system serving justice with [this] sentencing, especially for the people of Panama. Together, the Department of Justice, this office and our law enforcement partners stand firm against international corruption and will use all tools at our disposal to root it out.”

Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division stated:

“The defendants laundered millions of dollars in bribes through the U.S. financial system to benefit a close relative and maintain their luxury lifestyles. [This] sentencing shows that the FBI and our law enforcement partners are committed to bringing to justice anyone who enables the corruption of public officials for personal gain.”

According to this article, the DOJ sought prison sentences of between 9 and 11 years for Ricardo Martinelli and Luis Martinelli.

As stated in the article:

“Defense lawyers argued that the Martinellis should spend no more time in custody in part because they had acted at the behest of their father, identified as the recipient of the bribes. “I really wanted to please him, to keep him happy, to keep him proud,” Luis Martinelli said at the sentencing hearing in federal court in Brooklyn. “That’s not to say I am not responsible for my actions.” The younger Ricardo Martinelli also said he regretted his actions and hoped his guilty plea would help “establish accountability in my home country.” U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie said he understood their father’s influence, but that the men made a mistake by returning to Panama from the United States in 2020 after initially cooperating with prosecutors.”

See here for additional coverage.

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