Panama’s Martinelli sons extradited to US

Written by IFEKE Ighodaro, CNN

Arrested following a police-led investigation, the sons of the former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli have been extradited to the U.S. after nearly a year-long detention in Panama.

Authorities first arrested Hernan Martinelli and Richard Martinelli on January 30, 2017, as part of an investigation into bank and embezzlement allegations.

It followed an international manhunt after they fled Panama just hours after Panama’s Supreme Court ousted Martinelli as president in a constitutional crisis in May of that year.

CNN reported in March 2017 that the Martinelli brothers were attempting to hide their location by buying multiple properties throughout the United States, before allegedly spending more than $700,000 on the new properties.

Both brothers were charged with conspiracy to launder money, money laundering, and embezzlement, as well as other criminal offenses. They had been living in a luxury Panama City mansion with lavish views of the Pacific Ocean.

But U.S. authorities requested their extradition nearly a year later, during the first visit by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In a statement from his office Wednesday, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Brian Murphy said that both brothers now face charges of money laundering, forgery, and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. They also face charges of corruption, influence peddling, bribery, conspiracy, money laundering, and loan modification fraud.

The U.S. Embassy in Panama stated Wednesday afternoon that Richard Martinelli has been granted house arrest.

He had previously agreed to free arrest on five conditions, including testifying against Hernan, and paying back all personal funds.

However, Martinelli later reportedly balked at the terms, leading to his extension of house arrest.

Martinelli is currently free on $1 million bond, and he will not be able to leave the US in the event of his conviction.

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