FBI probe fingers Martinelli companies in alleged tax scam

1,281Views 0Comments Posted 04/08/2022



Companies of the Martinelli group are being investigated by the General Directorate of Revenue (DGI), and the FBI – for alleged tax evasion operations, especially, Importadora Ricamar, SA, owner of the Super 99 reports La Prensa.

For weeks, the DGI has been investigating companies of the conglomerate, something that former president Ricardo Martinelli describes as "political persecution.”

Intelligence reports from the United States, as well as the sworn statement of the accountant of Importadora Ricamar, SA (Irisa)  reveal alleged operations for tax evasion by companies of the Martinelli family, including Super 99, a company that is accused of money laundering in the Odebrecht case.

La Prensa gained access to a document in the possession of the Panamanian government – ​​dated May 2022 – in which the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) informs local authorities of a possible crime of “tax evasion”. The letter describes operations through which the family of Martinelli, including his wife and children, would benefit from "irregular" financial arrangements through Irisa.

According to the FBI, the irregular operations consist of “loans” made by the Martinelli family in favor of Irisa, in order to charge interest above what the local market pays. The loans would be reflected in the company's accounting books, despite the fact that it has the capacity to contract loans in the local market with better conditions, that is, with less onerous interest.

The letter also indicates that the Martinelli family, whose members are the main shareholders of the company, denies such loans. According to the FBI, Irisa would pay interest on the alleged loans, taxed under interest income, rather than identifying them as dividend payments.

$30 Million debt 
The alleged debt of the Martinelli family with Irisa would be about $30 million, according to the FBI, which would result in the distribution of millions of dollars a year to the members of this family, he stresses.

According to the FBI document, Irisa and companies linked to it, hire people who work for the Martinelli family, but whose work does not seem to be related to the commercial activities of Importadora Ricamar, SA.

The FBI cites, for example, the salary of The captain of the  Martinelli yacht is paid by Irisa, or the salaries of gardeners and drivers. These payments could result in concealment for Irisa's shareholders.

One month after the FBI letter the DGI began an investigation, according to a note from that institution released by Luis Eduardo Camacho, spokesman for  Martinelli. The document, partially published on social networks, indicated that it should provide the DGI with information on its income, purchases, assets, liabilities, and expenses for the period between 2018 and 2022.

However, the document was not addressed to Martinelli, but to the general manager of Irisa, Alejandro Garúz Adames, who was informed by the DGI of a comprehensive audit of the company, in relation to legal income (from 2019 to 2021). ; remittances (2008-2022); dividends (2008-2022) and other lines of the commercial activity of the company.

Camacho accused Vice President Carrizo, of mounting political persecution against his boss…who seek to intimidate him by auditing him, despite the fact that he is one of the largest taxpayers.”

Martinelli spoke in similar terms: “Today I will denounce the political persecution that I am subjected to by the government. I'm ready, they've tried everything and couldn't. I have everything in order and I have been generating thousands of jobs for more than 40 years.”