The former Panamanian president, Ricardo Martinelli, appears to have intentionally avoided entering, or even transiting, America, since leaving office last year. Are the rumors true, is he under indictment, for money laundering, in the United States ? Criminal charges against former heads of state are rare in the the US, but are not unknown, as we know, especially when Panama is involved.
Here is why there is a strong chance this is true:
(1) Martinelli pointedly sent his private jet into, and through, the US, while his supporters were advising the media that he was in America, yet he was not on board, nor did he arrive in Miami, on that plane, which continued on to Europe. He has engaged in a campaign of disinformation regarding his whereabouts. Is he afraid of arrest and extradition to the US ?
(2) When the target is not in US jurisdiction, the indictment remains sealed, and not available to the public, so that the target can be apprehended upon arrival, not suspecting that charges exist.
(3) David Murcia Guzmán, the Colombian pyramid fraudster, padded his Ponzi profits with narcotics profits, to the tune of $3bn, and much of that money was laundered through Martinelli's Super 99 market chain. Murcia, who is not longer in the Federal Prison system, and thought to be in Witsec (the Federal Witness Security[protection] program). Murcia is said to be cooperating with US law enforcement, and his testimony alone is thought to be more than sufficient to convict Martinelli of drug money laundering.
(4) Millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks, paid to Martinelli by a publicly-owned corporation in Italy, to secure lucrative contracts in Panama, was reportedly transferred to a number of overseas accounts. The dollar transactions were transferred through New York; the acceptance of bribes and kickbacks were predicate acts.
(5) There are credible rumors of a large cash reward for information leading to his capture, being circulated by law enforcement.
Will the United States, to set an example, arrange to capture Martinelli, in South America, and bring him to the United States for trial ? We cannot say, but many in the US are hoping that they will have the opportunity to see their corrupt former president, in District Court in Miami, facing American justice.