As Donald Trump’s legal problems grow, seemingly by the hour, other world leaders with whom his Trump Organization has conducted business may suffer the legal and political consequences of being identified with Trump and vice versa. One of those leaders, former Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli, is currently in prison in Panama and awaiting trial for illegal wiretapping of his opponents and public corruption while president from 2009 to 2014.
Martinelli, a wealthy supermarket business tycoon-turned-politician, was extradited in June from Miami—where he was seeking political asylum—back to Panama.
In 2011, Martinelli participated in the opening of the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama City. At 70-stories it is the tallest such structure in Latin America. In March of this year, the new owner of the building, a Cypriot businessman living in Miami, ordered the Trump name taken off the hotel and the firing of the Trump Organization building managers. Panamanian police were called in after the Trump employees refused to vacate the building. Before the employees were escorted off the property, they were witnessed shredding documents.
At the 2011 grand opening of the hotel and office complex, Martinelli was present, along with Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Ivanka Trump. Martinelli is in a position to provide Panamanian prosecutors detailed information on the Trump Organization’s ties to Colombian drug cartels, Israeli and Ukrainian gangsters, and Russian mobsters who invested in condominiums in the Trump building in Panama City. Some of these same individuals invested in Trump condos in south Florida.
Many of the Trump Ocean Club real estate transactions were carried out through Homes Real Estate and Investment Services of Panama City, headed by Alexandre Ventura Nogueira, a former Brazilian car salesman, who befriended Ivanka Trump. Nogueira also had links to the Valle del Norte drug cartel in Colombia and the former Colombian right-wing president Alvaro Uribe. On July 26, 2018, Uribe resigned his Colombian Senate seat to stand trial for making false statements and witness tampering.
Ironically, the same charges against Uribe—making false statements and witness tampering—may be included in future charges by U.S. Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller against Donald Trump, particularly witness tampering by dangling presidential pardons before witnesses. Uribe is the mentor of Ivan Duque, who is to be sworn in as Colombia’s new president in August. A criminal conviction of Uribe, who happens to be a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, may also dim the presidency of the right-wing Duque.
Ivanka Trump’s friend, Nogueira, was later arrested by Panamanian authorities on fraud and forgery charges that, reportedly, were not related to his work selling Trump condos. Nogueira later fled Panama for Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he is currently under investigation for money laundering using HSBC and Citibank accounts in Panama and Banco do Brasil, Citibank, and Santander accounts in Brazil under the pseudonym of Alexander Ukstin. Ivanka Trump was appointed to head up the Trump branding project for the Panama project by her father. The project was underwritten by Bear Stearns, which collapsed in 2008 and was taken over by JP Morgan. Nogueira is also under investigation in Spain, the headquarters of Santander, for money laundering.
Ivanka Trump and Nogueira traveled together to Cartagena, Colombia, to survey a potential Trump building project in that city. Nogueira also dealt regularly with Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump. The trial of Martinelli may shed some light on the reason why there are over 130 holding companies incorporated in Panama that are related to the former Trump building. Money laundering is among the charges against Martinelli. Martinelli shares something else in common with Donald Trump: members of the former Panamanian president’s family—his two sons, brother, and cousin—are also under investigation by the authorities in Panama.
Martinelli and his former tourism minister, Salomon Shamah, were investors in a money laundering investment firm called Financial Pacific, SA. A special account, dubbed “High Spirit,” maintained by the firm, was used by Martinelli and Shamah to covertly move millions of dollars. If any of these funds involved the Trump Organization and the Ocean Club project, Donald Trump and his three children may be in legal jeopardy for involvement in money laundering. The Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, Alan Weisselberg, who dates back to the time when Fred Trump Sr. was involved with the business, has been called before the Manhattan federal grand jury investigating Michael Cohen.
Weisselberg is reported to know about every detailed aspect of the Trump Organization’s business dealings in the United States and abroad. That knowledge would certainly include the Trump project in Panama City and developmental projects in Cartagena and Buenos Aires.
It is Martinelli’s alleged involvement in money laundering, including receipt of illegal cash from the Brazilian construction giant, Odebrecht SA, that may link the Trump family to the Latin American bribery scandal that has already claimed as culpable collaborators former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski of Peru, who was among one of the first world leaders to meet with Trump in the White House after the U.S. president’s inauguration and who resigned in March 2018; former Peruvian President Ollanta Humala; and current Brazilian President Michel Temer.
Trump may also get dragged into a growing scandal involving his old friend and business partner, Argentine President Mauricio Macri. Ivanka Trump was involved with Trump’s Argentine business partner, YY Development Group of Buenos Aires, to build a Trump Tower in Buenos Aires. One of Trump’s first actions as president-elect was for him and Ivanka to discuss the pending Buenos Aires project with Macri in a November 14, 2016, phone call. YY Development Group constructed the 26-floor Trump Tower in Punta del Este, Uruguay. YY Development Group’s managing partner, Moisés Yellati, is the brother-in-law of Macri’s finance minister, Nicolás Dujovne. The father of Dujovne, Bernardo Dujovne, is a partner of Dujovne-Hirsche & Associates, which is part of the project to build the Trump Tower in Punta del Estee. The two co-owners of YY Development Group, Yellati and Felipe Yaryura, were at the Trump Tower in Manhattan on election night in 2016 and helped celebrate, along with members of the Trump family, Trump’s electoral upset victory.
Socma (Sociedad Macri), the firm of Macri’s family, which was handed down to him and his two brothers—Gianfranco and Mariano Macri—by their father, Francesco Macri, is currently mired in scandal involving IECSA, a construction firm owned by his cousin, Angelo Calcaterra, and Odebrecht. Macri was mayor of Buenos Aires when Odebrecht, with IECSA as a junior partner, was awarded the contract to build a tunnel for the Sarmiento underground railway line in Buenos Aires.
Federal prosecutors in Argentina are digging into Socma, Odebrecht, and the Panama-based shell company, BF Corporation SA. Just prior to Macri’s swearing in as president in Buenos Aires, $4 million in a BF Corporation account at UBS bank in Hamburg, Germany, was moved to a Safra Bank account in Switzerland. Another Macri offshore company in Panama, Omexit SA, is also under law enforcement scrutiny.
Depending on what former President Martinelli might reveal at his trial, any linkages uncovered between the Macri and Trump families in the murky dealings of their offshore companies in Panama could help doom both presidential families, as assuredly it is now dealing a devastating blow to the Martinelli family in Panama.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
Copyright © 2018 WayneMadenReport.com
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).