The latest calculation quoted in the unfolding corruption investigation in the Republic of Panama is an educated estimate that the Martinelli Government embezzled at least three billion, five hundred million from government sources. This figure exceeds even the guesstimates previously appearing in local media.
Though Ricardo Martinelli himself came into office on a purported reform platform, and many Panamanians felt that, since their new president was himself a wealthy man, the chances of corruption were slim. Martinelli is now believed to have illegally enriched himself by more than a billion dollars during his presidency, now being characterized as a kleptocracy by anti-corruption prosecutors, who have charged many members of his former administration.
How far will the prosecutions go, and will there only be true reform if those in the new reform government that are themselves guilty of past corruption be themselves turned out of office and arrested ? There are those who want the current president charged for his past dark deeds, and those Panamanians also want the entire Supreme Court of Justice removed for fixing cases for bribes.
I am not sure that there are enough beds in Panama's prisons to house the vast number of corrupt PEPs, whether presently in, or out, of office, but true reform can only come after all the major offenders are tried, in a very public way, and imprisoned. Otherwise, Panama's sordid status as a den of official government corruption will continue ad infinitum.
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