Two Panama Ex-Presidents Charged in Odebrecht Case

Two Panama Ex-Presidents Charged in Odebrecht Case

Saara Barberena

Welcome to This Week In Compliance: GAN’s weekly news roundup, where we curate the latest stories on compliance and anti-corruption to keep you informed. This week, two of Panama’s former presidents are charged in the Odebrecht case. Read the full story and more news below:

Top Story

Two Panama Ex-Presidents Charged in Odebrecht Case:

Panama’s anti-corruption prosecutor announced charges against two of Panama’s former presidents, Ricardo Martinelli and Juan Carlos Varela for their alleged involvement in the Odebrecht corruption scheme involving a series of bribes for contracts across Latin America. According to lead prosecutor Tania Serling, the former presidents, as well as other public officials charged in the case, received over USD 100M in bribes and laundered it through national and foreign banks, shell companies, political campaigns, and fake contracts. Martinelli’s sons were arrested in 2020 for their involvement in the Odebrecht corruption scheme. 

Business

Brazil Probes U.S. Oil Trader in Alleged Bribery Scheme:

Brazilian authorities announced a probe into Freepoint Commodities, a Connecticut-based oil trading company that allegedly engaged in a bribery scheme with Brazilian state-owned company Petrobras. According to the Brazilian federal police, Freepoint bribed Petrobras officials from 2011-2018. The police’s investigation has found evidence in the form of emails, WhatsApp messages, and more, implicating some of Freepoint’s highest-ranking employees. Freepoint stated it is ‘strongly committed to following the law’. 

U.S. SEC Gives USD 23M to Whistleblowers:

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced two whistleblower awards, one of USD 13M and one of USD 10M to two whistleblowers. In both orders, the whistleblowers’ assistance by participating in interviews and providing complementary documentation led the SEC to successfully conduct several enforcement actions. This included uncovering a fraudulent scheme involving ‘tens of millions of dollars’. 

Regulatory Updates

Senate Passes Bill to Fund CFTC Whistleblower Program:

The U.S. Senate passed a bill temporarily creating a new account for the funding of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) whistleblowing program under the U.S. Treasury Department. The CFTC’s whistleblower program is funded by money collected by enforcement agencies and is currently in the midst of a funding crisis as it is facing a potential payout of USD 100M to a whistleblower in a Deutsche Bank AG case. According to CFTC leaders, this sum could deplete the fund meaning the office could end up being suspended. The bill will undergo a voting procedure by the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Government

Ex-Bolivian Minister Charged with Corruption:

Arturo Murillo, Bolivia’s former interior minister was arrested by Bolivian authorities over an alleged corruption scandal related to government contracts. According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Murillo together with another public official received bribes from a U.S.-based company in exchange for a USD 5.6M contract with the Bolivian Defense Ministry for the provision of equipment. The public officials used the U.S. financial system to launder the proceeds. Three American citizens were also charged in the case. If convicted, the defendants could face up to 20 years in prison. 

Czech Police Orders Corruption Charges Against Prime Minister:  

The Czech police ordered the Prague Public Prosecutor’s Office to charge Prime Minister Andrej Babis with fraud after a police investigation revealed that he had misused European Union funds. The investigation focused on Babis’ relationship to the ownership structure of a leisure complex known as Stork’s Nest which received funding from the EU’s scheme for promoting small and medium businesses, and to determine whether it was eligible to receive the funds. The allegations of ownership irregularities caused mass protests in Prague. The Public Prosecutor’s office stated that they would process the documents and decide whether or not to proceed with the indictment.

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