Guatemala arrests former President and former ministers in fraud case

Former Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom and his former ministers were arrested as part of a local corruption investigation on the capital's public transport
Former Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom arrives to court escorted by policemen after being detained as part of a local corruption investigation – Photo: Fabricio Alonzo/ REUTERS
13/02/2018
12:49
Reuters
Guatemala City
Sofía Menchu
-A +A

On Tuesday, former Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom and former Finance Minister Juan Alberto Fuentes who is now chairman of Oxfam International were arrested as part of a local corruption investigation, the public prosecutor’s office said.

“One of the 10 people detained in today’s operation is the ex-president of the republic, Alvaro Colom,” Juan Francisco Sandoval, Chief Anti-corruption Officer at the Public Prosecutor’s Office, said on local radio.

Juan Alberto Fuentes, a former finance minister who is currently chairman of Oxfam International, was also among those arrested, prosecutors said. Fuentes’ arrest ratchets up the pressure on the British charity, already reeling after reports of sex abuse by aid workers in Haiti.

The Times newspaper reported on Friday that some staff who were in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake there had paid for sex with prostitutes.

Fuentes has “assured us that he has cooperated fully with the investigation in the confidence he did not knowingly transgress rules or procedures,” Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima said in a statement.

Colom, 66, was president of Guatemala from 2008 to 2012. The corruption investigation is looking at buses bought during his administration for a large public transport program.

“We think everything was legal, but let’s wait and see what the judge says,” Colom said as he entered the courthouse, flanked by police.

The eight other people arrested were Colom’s former ministers who signed the deal to purchase the buses.

Colom is not the first Guatemalan leader to face graft accusations.

Current President Jimmy Morales, a former television comedian who ran on an anti-corruption ticket, came under fire last year from the United Nations, the European Union and the U.S. Ambassador in Guatemala for attempting to expel a U.N.-backed prosecutor seeking to put him on trial for alleged corruption.

The investigation into allegations of illicit campaign financing, which followed separate graft probes into members of the president’s family, had threatened Morales with impeachment. He escaped that fate but his authority has been seriously hampered.

Morales’ predecessor, former president Otto Pérez, is currently behind bars, awaiting trial on graft charges.

sg

Mantente al día con el boletín de El Universal

 

COMENTARIOS