Panama businessman claims to have delivered millions in kickback cash to former president
PANAMA CITY, Panama -- Evidence of massive corruption committed by former Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli while in office continues to stun Panamanians.
Cristóbal ‘Tobin’ Salerno Balestra, who ran Cobranzas del Istmo, SA, a Panamanian company that collected delinquent taxes on behalf of the General Revenue Department, has testified that he delivered bags of cash, each containing $400-$600,000, every three months to the offices of Martinelli's Super 99 supermarket chain.
Salerno's company earned an estimated $45m during a four-year period; he is being held under house arrest, on order of the Corruption Prosecutor's Office.
Salerno also testified that he gave Martinelli a check for $900,000, as a kickback for the lucrative business, awarded to him by Martinelli in a no-bid contract.
Martinelli's present location is unknown, though his publicists swear that he is living in the United States. He even has posted "evidence" of his purchase of a luxury automobile in Miami, though most believe he is in hiding on an estate he purchased in Paraguay.
Caption: Martinelli allegedly buying a Lexus in North Miami
By Kenneth Rijock