GUATEMALA: Perez & Baldetti Face New Corruption Investigations

The ex-President and Vice President will undergo a trial for a third case of corruption allegedly involving more than U$S82 million. A judge has accused the pair for passive bribery offenses and money laundering, together and apart.The ex-President and Vice President will undergo a trial for a third case of corruption allegedly involving more than U$S82 million. A judge has accused the pair for passive bribery offenses and money laundering, together and apart.

Former President and Vice President will undergo a trial for a third case of corruption allegedly involving more than U$S82 million.

Specifically, Judge Miguel Angel Galvez has accused the pair for passive bribery offenses and money laundering, together and apart. However, they have yet to be formally charged for crimes of conspiracy and illicit enrichment.

The new trial aims to tie that knot.

“Yes, there was corruption in my government,” ex-President and military intelligence head Perez Molina – currently in custody for the “La Linea” scandal – has claimed, “but I did not commit any crime”.

Uncovered last June by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and the Public Ministry (MP), in this case, 450 public contracts were made in exchange for large fees that exceeded U$S82.1 through a “criminal organization” that was intended to plunder state coffers.

Not Alone

Perez Molina: “Yes, there was corruption in my government, but I did not commit any crime”. Photo (c) Contra Poder Guatemala 2015

Meanwhile, the judge has issued an indictment against 51 other former senior government officials, businessmen and lawyers for various crimes, including passive bribery, money laundering, and illegal campaign financing.

Among the accused are former Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla, former Defense Ministers Ulises Anzueto and Manuel Ambrosio and former Agriculture Minister Edin Barrientos.

But apparently, Perez-Baldetti opposition isn’t over.

“It’s Not Personal, It’s Business?”

Little evidence has yet been able to sufficiently justify the several multi-million mansions. Photo (c) Prensalibre 2016

According to Perez-Baldetti opposition, the plot started in 2008, three years before the Patriot Party (PP) came to power in 2011.

They claim that Pérez Molina initiated election campaign funds illegally through money laundering and once in power, he rewarded them with government contracts. To launder the collected money, the team created a network of 24 opaque companies, for which they had the connivance of several banks, whose leaders have also since been arrested.

During this investigation, the CICIG and the Public Ministry also revealed how ministers and government officials made the ex-military intelligence leader and head of state Perez Molina considerable gifts for “his birthday”, including a brand new U$S100,000 Jaguar car.

Gifts were not only limited to Perez Molina, but also Roxana Baldetti. As a former school teacher, 1980’s runner-up Miss Guatemala, and TV journalist, Baldetti also owns a chain of beauty salons. None, however, have been able to sufficiently justify the several multi-million mansions and U$S13 million helicopter obtained during her three year presidency, as a “gift”.

Baldetti was the first to resign in May 2015, followed by her boss four months later. Perez was taken into custody a day after resignation.

After uncovering this plot of gifts, the Commissioner of the CICIG, Ivan Velasquez, went on to say that “the Perez government was in constant management of public resources as if they were owned by a selfish interest of illicit enrichment”.

So he said that all cases of corruption involving Pérez Molina and Baldetti reveal that those who participated in them “were available at will” to public resources by subtracting “big money” to meet the heads of this ” criminal structure” with “unjustified and incomprehensible whims”.

The Original Drama

Originally, the former president of Guatemala has been in prison since September 2015 for crimes of conspiracy, passive bribery and special case of customs fraud for a cause in which the Public Prosecutor’s Office and CICIG accuse him of being the leader of the La Linea corrupt plot that defrauded more U$S3.5 million through the entry of goods at customs. Photo (c) Prensa Libre 2015

It is worth recalling that Perez Molina was also subjected to a judicial process last May 7 at the Container Terminal Case of Quetzal (TCQ) by which also in prison is Spanish businessman, Juan Jose Suarez. This cause of corruption investigated a bribe of U$S30 million by TCQ, which was a subsidiary of Container Terminal of Barcelona (TCB), in order to achieve an usufruct of 25 years of some 34 hectares in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala.

Specifically, Perez Molina was noted in this case of the crimes for passive bribery, fraud, influence trafficking and money laundering.

Originally, the former president of Guatemala has been in prison since September 2015 for crimes of conspiracy, passive bribery and special case of customs fraud for a cause in which the Public Prosecutor’s Office and CICIG accuse him of being the leader of the La Linea corrupt plot that defrauded more U$S3.5 million through the entry of goods at customs.

Indeed, Perez Molina’s lawyer, Cesar Calderon has asked the judge for two processes so that his client should only face a single case for the various crimes alleged against him.

About the Author

Ailana Navarez
Ailana Navarez is Editor-in-Chief of Pulsamerica Mangazine and Deputy Editor of International Policy Digest. She has published over 100 international relations-related articles as a political analyst / journalist with a concentration in Latin American political leadership analysis, commerce, international relations, history and security affairs. As a photographer, she has covered international summits – including of MERCOSUR and the UN. She has also written for World Press. Navarez holds a BA in Government and Psychology at Harvard, pursuing an MA in Homeland Security at Penn State, and is certified in Competitive Counter Intelligence, Technical Surveillance Countermeasures and Countering Terrorism & the Asset Threat Spectrum. She speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese and Hawaiian Creole.