Ricardo Martinelli is a former president of Panama. And many onlookers believe that he's been making plans to reclaim the office in the country's next presidential election, which is slated to be held next year.

Federal law bars incumbent President Laurentino Cortizo from seeking consecutive terms. The same term limits had also applied to Martinelli. But he and his family have continued to find themselves in legal peril. Not only impacting his presidential prospects, but possibly meaning he could spend more than a decade in prison.

Found guilty of money laundering

Ricardo Martinelli has been convicted of money laundering. The sentence amounts to more than 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of nearly $20 million.

The case in question has been termed as 'New Business' on a colloquial basis. It involves a convoluted scheme surrounding a major media conglomerate. One that, if things had gone according to his plan, Martinelli would've become the majority owner of. He claims the charges against him are politically motivated. His attorneys evidently plan to appeal the verdict.

But Martinelli could be facing further prison time on similar, but separate, charges. He is accused of money laundering and accepting bribes in relation to his ties with the Brazilian company Odebrecht.

Two of his sons have already served prison sentences in the United States and Guatemala on related charges. Earlier this year, Martinelli and other family members were denied entry to the United States. The denial stems from various corrupt acts allegedly committed while he was president. Martinelli is also being investigated for possibly crimes committed by authorities in Spain.

Martinelli had previously fled to the U.S. shortly after leaving office amid earlier criminal conduct investigations. U.S. officials later extradited him back to Panama over even more allegations of illegal activities – more specifically, unsanctioned wiretaps of his political and business rivals.

If Martinell's appeal is denied, it would effectively end any aspirations of him returning to the Presidency.

According to the Panamanian Constitution, he would be ineligible to hold the office. It rules out individuals who have been sentenced to more than five years in prison for a deliberate crime.

Previously lost a campaign for president

Ricardo Martinelli is a native of Panama City. He was educated in the United States at Staunton Military Academy in Virginia and the University of Arkansas. Martinelli worked for several years with Citibank. He eventually became the president of the major Panamanian supermarket chain Super 99.

Martinelli held roles in the administrations of Presidents Ernesto Perez Balladares and Mireya Moscoso. He was also named the president of the Cambio Democratico (Democratic Change) political party.

In 2004, he was the party's nominee for president. Martinelli finished in a distant fourth place in the election. Martin Torrijos of the Partido Revolucionario Democratico (Democratic Revolutionary Party) won the race by a significant margin.

But again, Torrijos could not run again in the next election, held in 2009. Martinelli run again and this time won in a landslide. Since leaving office, he has changed his party affiliation to Realizando Metas (Realizing Goals).