Former President Ricardo Martinelli announced criminal actions against the newspaper La Prensa, on the same day that the newspaper reported that the General Directorate of Revenue (DGI) is investigating a handful of its companies and that the FBI alerted Panama on presumed tax evasion operations, especially of Importadora Ricamar, SA
Martinelli denies these facts and has said that La Prensa has "the sole purpose of attacking me politically."
Former first lady Marta de Martinelli also announced that she would take legal action against the newspaper.
Lawsuits are a sustained practice by Martinelli says La Prensa. A report by the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) indicates that the former president has filed 16 complaints and lawsuits against La Prensa (of which 14 were provisionally closed), in which he claims compensation of $41 million. The IAPA has said that these legal maneuvers are intended to impose self-censorship on journalists.
A series of reactions in favor of greater tax controls caused the publication in La Prensa of the Martinelli Companies investigation, accused of tax evasion, based on documents to which the newspaper had access, including an alleged sworn and voluntary statement by the manager of accounts of the companies of the Martinelli Group —whose authenticity Martinelli denies— as well as FBI intelligence documents, which indicate alleged tax evasion by the company that owns the Super 99, Importadora Ricamar, SA.
The document, with the alleged fingerprint of the accountant Marcelino Velásquez, who still works in the Martinelli company, indicates that “between 1999 and 2014, a series of irregular events took place, aimed at evasion of taxes...”, while referring to “irregular” situations, which he would have endorsed as the person in charge of the company's accounting.
"I prepared and authorized many of the records being aware [sic] that they were irregular, without obtaining any personal advantage, only being able to keep my position in the company," the affidavit indicates.
As an example of this, the accountant referred to events that occurred in October 1998, in which Empresas Martinelli, SA would have acquired two foreign companies, in the British Virgin Islands, in order to fictitiously increase the costs of operations and thus be able to reduce the payment of taxes on the profits generated.