Posted by on January 25, 2023 11:46 pm
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US bans former president of Panama over ‘significant corruption’

Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli, second from right, talks with former administrator of the Panama Canal, Alberto Aleman Zubieta, right, as Canal Affairs Minister Roberto Roy, second from left, and newly designed Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano, left behind, look on before the inaugural ceremony for Quijano in Panama City, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco) Arnulfo Franco/AP

US bans former president of Panama over ‘significant corruption’

Brady Knox January 25, 11:16 PMJanuary 25, 11:16 PM Video Embed

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a ban on the entry of the former president of Panama and his immediate family into the U.S., accusing them of “involvement in significant corruption.”

In the announcement, Blinken accused Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Berrocal, president of Panama from 2009-2014, of accepting bribes in exchange for awarding government contracts.

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“Accepting bribes for government contracts undermines the integrity of Panama’s democratic institutions and fuels perceptions of corruption and impunity. Such acts of public corruption diminish confidence in governance and reduce resources available for schools, hospitals, roads, and other government services,” Blinken wrote.

The state secretary went on to make a wider point that the U.S. is committed to fighting corruption around the globe.

“These designations reaffirm the commitment of the United States to combat corruption, which harms the public interest, hampers countries’ economic prosperity, and curtails the ability of governments to respond effectively to the needs of their people,” Blinken wrote.

“The United States continues to stand with all Panamanians in support of democracy and the rule of law, and will continue to promote accountability for those who abuse public power for personal gain, regardless of their position or political affiliation,” he concluded.

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The travel ban isn’t the first time Martinelli has run afoul of U.S. law. He was arrested in Florida in 2017 on charges of illegal wiretapping and embezzlement. He was extradited to Panama a year later, and he was acquitted there in 2019.

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