The Naples, Italy, Court of Freedom of confirmed on Saturday, May 12 the legitimacy of the arrest warrant for the man who was once glad handed and feted in Panama by elected ministers and officials.
Valter Lavítola, is accused of asking for a pay off from former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and of giving illegal payments to President Ricardo, Martinelli, say judicial sources quoted by French news agency AFP.
Lavítola, former director of Italian newspaper Avanti, was arrested by order of the Prosecutor of Naples on April 16, after disembarking from a flight from Argentina, after six months on the run in Latin America and although wanted by Italian authorities was seen free in Casco Viejo.
The businessman is accused of bribing former Prime Minister Berlusconi and international corruption.
In the investigation it has emerged that Lavítola to obtain lucrative contracts in Panama, offered bribes to senior officials, including Martinelli, according to a summary of the investigation published by the Italian press.
The court found that Lavítola had"enormous availability of money and a network of contacts abroad", confirming that the Italian courts must determine whether he handled such sums of money for illegal purposes or not.
The Italian businessman denied to prosecutors who questioned him in late April, paying bribes to Martinelli.
According to the investigation, Lavítola usually presented as "intermediary" of the President and authorities of Panama to conduct negotiations in that country, including a failed modular prison construction.
In addition, as a close associate of Berlusconi, whom he accompanied on his official visit to Panama in mid-2010 and endeavored to obtain important international contracts for Italy and ,was instrumental in the signing of agreements between Panama and Finmeccanica for $ 250 million.
The decision of the Court of Liberty was announced after a two-hour hearing. Lavítola is also accused of having organized with his colleague Giampaolo Tarantino a network of luxury prostitutes to attend private parties of Berlusconi, and the "misuse" of about 20 million euros of public funding for the newspaper Avanti.
According to the indictment, the two entrepreneurs aspired to get contracts for business overseas by Berlusconi and to make bids through a "complex network of corruption" to Panamanian officials and private entrepreneurs.
After the scandal of a minor at the parties of Berlusconi the two businessmen eventually asked for 800 000 euros from the leader, to remain silent according to prosecutors.