Corruption in Panama?

Key words: Odebrecht corruption case; Panamanian presidents.

In mid-November 2022 the Latin America News Dispatch reported that a judge in Panama had called over 30 people for trial on charges of money laundering in the Odebrecht case, one of Latin America’s largest corruption cases in recent history.

The Odebrecht case extends throughout much of Latin America and involves the payment of bribes to officials and politicians in the region. The case originated in Brazil with the giant Odebrecht construction company which has been involved in many of the sub-continent’s major infrastructure projects.  More details on the case and its background can be found here.

Among the accused in Panama are six former ministers, former officials, and business people. Not the least significant of these are former president Ricardo Martinelli and his successor and vice president Juan Carlos Varela who are also among the accused. Previously, they had been restricted from leaving the country pending separate corruption charges. Both deny committing crimes. Varela plans to run for president in 2024.

The trial is scheduled to start on 1st August 2023 and to run for three weeks.