Sunday, July 1, 2012


Lavitola in custody in Italy

The evidence is piling up against Panama's President Ricardo Martinelli:

An Italian judge has denied bond to the accused corrupter of Martinelli, Valter Lavitola, in the Finmeccanica scandal, after making these findings:
  (1) That Lavitola was a confident of Martinelli.
  (2) That Martinelli intended to confer diplomatic status on Lavitola, e.g. Panamanian Consul in Rome.
  (3) That Lavitola attempted, whilst a fugitive, to destroy evidence implicating Martinelli.
  (4) That Lavitola obstructed the investigation.
  (5) Witness testimony confirmed bribe payments to Martinelli, via hand delivery of cash.

Now, Martinelli, in an effort to exercise damage control,  has engaged a Dutch national, Okke Ornstein, as his personal "spin master," principally on the Internet, to spread only positive news about Panama's president, inasmuch as local public opinion has turned against him. There's just one problem: Mr. Ornstein is himself a wanted man in Panama, with a number of unexecuted arrest warrants pending against him for fraud, and sundry other white-collar crimes. He is being actively sought by the authorities.

Ornstein's brother, whose identity he often conveniently adopts

It gets worse; Ornstein, who has been linked to an unsolved murder in Panama City, is reported to be a fugitive in his native Holland, in a case involving child pornography. 

Okke Ornstein has been known to radically change his appearance

 He was the general manager in charge of Marc Harris' celebrated Ponzi scheme, a case which is quite familiar to anyone who follows major white-collar crime cases. Whilst Harris is currently serving a term in Federal Prison in the United States for his crimes, Ornstein reportedly received immunity for his cooperation with American law enforcement. He is believed to have walked away from the Harris case with between three and four million dollars, some of which he has funneled to his parents and extended family.

Marc Harris and Okke Ornstein aloft

How can such a person rehabilitate President Martinelli's tattered image in the eyes of the Panamanian public ?  I am only think he was chosen because Martinelli and Ornstein have crossed paths before, on Panama's darker side, the world of financial crime.

Will the Martinelli investigation result in an indictment in Italy? We cannot say, but we shall report on all developments as they occur.

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