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Former Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli arrested Monday in Miami

Martinelli served as president of Panama from 2009 to 2014 and is wanted there on corruption charges involving an alleged wire-tapping scheme.
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13 Jun 2017 – 9:42 PM EDT

Ricardo Martinelli, the former president of Panama, was arrested Monday evening in Miami on sealed criminal charges, the U.S. Marshals Service confirmed to Univision.

The billionaire supermarket magnate served as president of Panama from 2009 to 2014 was taken into custody as he was driving out of his home around 7:30 p.m. (EST) and is being held at the Federal Detention Center, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. Marshals in Miami.

"There was no incident. He was cool and calm," the official said.

Martinelli, 66, is due to appear in court in Miami at 2pm on Tuesday where the charges against him will be unsealed.

After leaving office he fled to the United States on a visitor visa in January 2015. Panama has sought his extradition on corruption charges involving an alleged scheme to wire-tap his political opponents.

He has denied the charges in other media. "He has not been accused or formally charged," according a statement published by the Miami Herald last year. "He is in the United States because he faces political persecution," in Panama, the statement added.

Two of Martinelli's sons have also been linked to a $60 million bribery case involving the Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht.

Martinelli's sons were living in Madrid, Spain but fled before arrest orders were issued for them and are beleived to be in Miami, sources told Univision.

The sons have denied the Odebrecht bribery allegations, calling them “groundless.”

Odebrecht and its affiliated petrochemical company Braskem pleaded guilty in a U.S. court in December to violating American foreign bribery laws as part of a $3.5 billion deal resolving a sweeping corruption probe of Brazil's state oil company.


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