The Laundry Man by Kenneth Rijock ( Penguin/Random House UK)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Panama's fugitive ex-president, Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal, in a telephone interview with a Panamanian radio station, has denied that he was involved in the rampant criminal activity that anti-corruption prosecutors have filed criminal charges upon. Martinelli alleges that a corrupt Supreme Court of Justice, acting upon the orders for the country's current leader, President  Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez, has had charges filed against him for purely political reasons.

Claiming that, as a rich man, he had no reason to steal the millions of dollars that he is accused of accumulating illegally, through corruption, insider trading, and other crimes, Martinelli says all the witnesses against him, especially the former Superintendent of Securities, Ignacio Fábrega, are lying, at Varela's request. Fábrega has directly implicated him in the massive Financial Pacific scandal.

The fugitive continues to claim that he is living happily in Miami, though no major media have either seen him in person, or been contacted for an interview. Most Panama watchers believe that he, and his entourage of former ministers and agency heads, some of whom are wanted in Panama, are in Paraguay, in an estate Martinelli purchased while still in office. Will Panama ever bring him to justice ? We cannot say, but he says he's not coming back.

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