Panama City, Panama — The latest calculation quoted in the unfolding corruption investigation in Panama is an educated estimate that the government of former president Ricardo Martinelli embezzled at least $3.5 billion from public funds. This figure exceeds even the guesstimates previously appearing in local media.
Martinelli himself came into office on a purported reform platform and many Panamanians felt that, since their new president was himself a wealthy man, the chances of corruption were slim.
However, Martinelli is now believed to have illegally enriched himself by more than a billion dollars during his presidency, now being characterized as a kleptocracy by anti-corruption prosecutors, who have charged many members of his former administration.
How far will the prosecutions go, and will there only be true reform if those in the new reform government that are themselves guilty of past corruption are themselves turned out of office and arrested?
There are those who want the current president charged for his past dark deeds, and those Panamanians also want the entire Supreme Court of Justice removed for fixing cases for bribes.
Kenneth Rijock is a banking lawyer turned-career money launderer (10 years), turned-compliance officer specialising in enhanced due diligence, and a financial crime consultant who publishes a Financial Crime Blog. The Laundry Man, his autobiography, was published in the UK on 5 July 2012.