May 20, 2022

Panamanian brothers sentenced to prison for participation in Odebrecht bribery scheme

On May 20, 2022, brothers Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares and Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares were sentenced in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York following December 2021 guilty pleas that stemmed from a far-reaching investigation by the DOJ into violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act involving the Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht S.A.  The Martinelli brothers admitted to establishing shell companies to launder millions of dollars of bribes from Odebrecht through the US banking system for their personal benefit and that of a person described by the DOJ as a “close relative, a high-ranking public official in Panama.”  Luis and Ricardo are the sons of former Panamanian President Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Berrocal.  Both Luis and Ricardo were sentenced to thirty-six months in prison, and fined $250,000.  Forfeiture orders of nearly $19 million have also been entered against both brothers.

Odebrecht and its indirect subsidiary, Braskem, S.A., pleaded guilty in December 2016 to conspiracy to violate the FCPA in a bribery scheme stretching over 10 countries and involving the payment of $700 million in bribes to foreign officials and political parties.  In addition to its plea agreement with the DOJ, the company entered into settlements with Brazilian and Swiss authorities, ultimately paying $2.6 billion in criminal and regulatory penalties.  Since then, over seventy Odebrecht executives have entered into plea bargains in Brazil, and several related prosecutions have ensued in the United States.

DOJ press release