Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez has been accused of participation within the Odebrecht scandal, swapping bribes for contracts.
The USA has banned former Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez from getting into the nation “as a result of his involvement in important corruption” whereas in workplace.
The announcement, made by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, accuses Varela of accepting bribes in change for granting authorities contracts.
“This designation reaffirms the dedication of america to fight endemic corruption in Panama,” Blinken mentioned in his assertion.
“It’s our hope that at the moment’s motion will immediate Panama’s elected representatives and authorities to deal with entrenched corruption and empower all those that get up for the rule of regulation.”
Varela is certainly one of two Panamanian presidents charged with cash laundering within the long-running Odebrecht scandal, which embroiled politicians in practically a dozen Latin American countries.
Named for the Brazilian development agency on the coronary heart of the case, the Odebrecht scandal concerned officers allegedly gathering bribes as they doled out main public works contracts.
Whereas in workplace, Varela was implicated within the scandal, with lawyer and former adviser Ramon Fonseca Mora accusing him of accepting bribes from Odebrecht as “donations”.
“President Varela advised me — might lightning strike me if I lie — that he had accepted donations from Odebrecht as a result of he couldn’t combat everybody,” Fonseca advised reporters in 2017.
On the time, Varela, a former businessman, was within the midst of his five-year time period in workplace, which spanned from 2014 to 2019. He denied any wrongdoing.
Beforehand, Varela — the scion of certainly one of Panama’s wealthiest households, well-known for its rum model — served as vp underneath fellow conservative Ricardo Martinelli.
However the two males had a falling out, and in 2011, Martinelli stripped Varela of a second place he held as overseas affairs minister.
Martinelli has likewise been accused of collaborating within the Odebrecht case, amongst different allegations. His two sons, Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares and Ricardo Martinelli Linares, each served prison sentences within the US for his or her position within the money-laundering scandal.
As well as, the elder Martinelli was extradited from the US in 2018 on accusations that he used public cash to spy on political opponents and journalists. He was acquitted in 2021, with a Panamanian court docket ruling there was inadequate proof.
Martinelli, his sons and Varela are scheduled to face trial for his or her alleged roles within the Odebrecht case. They’ve been barred from leaving Panama.
In Thursday’s press launch, Secretary of State Blinken underscored the deep prices such a scandal can inflict.
“Corruption unjustly deprives the folks of Panama of high quality public companies reminiscent of colleges, hospitals, and roads, hurting their financial prospects and their high quality of life,” he wrote.
“If not addressed, corruption will proceed to depress Panama’s prosperity, weaken its democracy, and stop it from realising its full potential.”