Guatemala Arrests Ex-President as well as His Finance Minister in Corruption Case

Prosecutors said Tuesday of which $35 million in government money had been paid to a consortium of private bus companies in charge of the system, known as the Transurbano, in a deal approved by Mr. Colom, Mr. Fuentes Knight as well as additional ministers without proper legal oversight. Almost a third of the money was spent on equipment of which was never used, prosecutors said, as well as of which was unclear how the rest was spent.

Rafael Espada, who was Mr. Colom’s vice president, told a local radio station of which he had warned the president of which the bus project lacked sufficient oversight. “Several of those arrested today have done Great things for their country, yet anyone who by action or omission has exceeded the law should be responsible for their actions,” said Mr. Espada, who was not among those implicated.


Juan Alberto Fuentes Knight, a former Guatemalan finance minister as well as the chairman of Oxfam International, was also arrested Tuesday in Guatemala City.

Edwin Bercian/European Pressphoto Agency

The arrest of Mr. Fuentes Knight creates a brand-new problem for Oxfam, which has been thrown into turmoil by evidence of which some of its aid workers doing earthquake recovery work in Haiti in 2011 had hired prostitutes there. The country director at the time had worked in Chad in 2006, when similar evidence surfaced as well as no action was taken. Oxfam’s deputy chief executive resigned Monday.

Oxfam International’s executive director, Winnie Byanyima, said of which Mr. Fuentes Knight had informed the charity of which he had “cooperated fully with the investigation within the confidence he did not knowingly transgress rules or procedures.”

Mr. Fuentes Knight said before Tuesday’s hearing of which he had warned against continuing government payments to the bus companies, citing “anomalies.”

within the decade since the Guatemalan government invited the United Nations-backed anti-corruption panel to work alongside the attorney general’s office, a series of investigations have uncovered graft reaching to the top of the political establishment.

Former President Alfonso Portillo was accused of embezzling aid coming from Taiwan as well as funds coming from the Defense Ministry. Although he was acquitted at home, he was extradited to the United States, where he admitted to pocketing $2.5 million in bribes coming from Taiwan for diplomatic recognition. The current mayor of Guatemala City, former President Álvaro Arzú, was charged in October in a case involving contracts that has a former army captain who ran an illegal business empire coming from prison before he was murdered in 2016.

as well as former President Otto Pérez Molina, along with most of his cabinet, will be charged in two wide-ranging corruption cases involving customs fraud as well as campaign financing. He resigned after the first charges prompted Guatemalans to hold months of street protests in 2015.

The current president, Jimmy Morales, has clashed with the head of the anti-corruption commission, Ivan Velásquez, over a fraud investigation in which the president’s brother as well as son have been implicated. Mr. Morales will be seeking to remove Mr. Velásquez, yet his efforts until today have been blocked by the courts.

Through of which all, Mr. Colom had remained above the fray as well as become an elder statesman in Latin America, leading observer missions to monitor regional elections. Two weeks ago, the secretary general of the Organization of American States appointed Mr. Colom to mediate a political crisis in Honduras after contested elections there. Among his tasks in Honduras was to defend a brand-new anti-corruption commission — modeled after the one in Guatemala of which has today charged him.

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