Guatemala’s President Linked to Corruption Case, Prosecutor SaysMichael McDonald
Corruption scandals that have engulfed Guatemala President Otto Perez Molina’s government this year, prompting mass protests ahead of September elections, reached his office on Friday.
Prosecutors said Perez Molina may have been involved in a customs tax fraud scandal that forced Vice President Roxana Baldetti to resign in May. Perez Molina and Baldetti, who was placed under arrest Friday, have rejected the accusations.
“The documentation we have confiscated leads us to believe that the president of the republic probably participated in the criminal structure,” Attorney General Thelma Aldana told reporters on Friday.
Perez Molina, 64, has faced mounting calls this year for his resignation. As many as 60,000 people in the Central American country of 14.6 million turned out at rallies earlier this year to protest corruption. With about two weeks to go before the Sept. 6 presidential election, prosecutors have asked the courts to investigate Perez Molina in a bid to strip him of immunity from prosecution.
“We’ll see what it says,” Perez Molina told reporters in the town of San Jorge, when asked about the investigation. “We have to know what the situation is and then we will have something to say.”
The country’s central bank president, tax chief and head of the social security institute have been jailed this year for their alleged roles in corruption cases.
While Perez Molina wasn’t eligible to run for re-election next month, the rash of corruption cases has also reached the candidates. Presidential frontrunner Manuel Baldizon’s running mate, Edgar Barquin, has been accused by prosecutors of running a money laundering ring during his tenure as central bank president from 2010-2014. Barquin has rejected the charges.
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