Evelyn Vargas Reynaga, the former attorney for the family of Panama's ex-President, Ricardo Martinelli, recently disclosed a disturbing story, which was made public in Panama this week. Vargas, as you may recall, is the lawyer who admitted that she hid millions of dollars, in bribe money associated with the Odebrecht construction scandal, and she has been testifying about her role in the matter.
While in Mexico, and knowing that an INTERPOL warrant for her arrest, and removal to Panama, existed, she was contacted by the sons of the former president. They invited her to travel, not to Panama, but to Miami, where presumably they could meet with her, and thereby evade the Mexican authorities. They clearly did not want her to be interviewed by Panamanian prosecutors.
The presumption is that she would be "protected" in Miami, and not be extradited to Panama. This is extremely disturbing, given that ex-president Martinelli has been living openly in Miami, notwithstanding that Panama delivered an extradition request to the US State Department back in September, 2016. His two sons, who are also wanted in Panama, have not been taken into custody, although their whereabouts are not publicly known. Are they quietly living in Miami as well, and are they also immune from Panamanian justice, for the same reason their father is still living here ?
Vargas, whose US visa was reportedly revoked, said that she told the Martinellis that she was unable for that reason to travel to Florida, and she was detained by Mexican law enforcement shortly thereafter.
What is this special relationship that Ricardo Martinelli has with the United States, that the dozen white collar criminal cases pending against him, involving billions of dollars his administration stole, or accepted bribes and kickbacks, and otherwise violated the trust placed in him, are not sufficient to justify his prompt extradition to the Republic of Panama ?
Chronicles of Monte Friesner - Financial Crime Analyst
Contributed by Kenneth Rijock - Financial Crime Consultant