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Guatemala ex-president faces new corruption charges

April 16, 2016

Former Guatemalan President Otto Perez, who is in jail awaiting trial on corruption allegations, has been linked to a new scandal. He has been accused of heading "a criminal network."

Former Guatemalan president Otto Perez (Photo: Reuters)
Image: Reuters/J. Cabezas

Guatemala's ex-President Otto Perez, who held office from 2012 to 2015, used his position "to facilitate negotiations where he would obtain direct financial benefit in detriment to the interest of the nation," prosecutor general Thelma Aldana said Friday.

The former president, who was forced out after mass protests last year, is accused of heading a "criminal network" that helped Barcelona-based company Terminal de Contenedores win a 25-year contract to operate a new container terminal in Puerto Quetzal on Guatemala's Pacific coast.

Prosecutors allege the contract with the Spanish company was signed in April 2012 and included $30 million (about 26.6 million euros) in commissions for local and international negotiators.

Perez and former vice president Roxana Baldetti allegedly walked away with $ 4.2 million (about 3.7 million euros) each in 2013.

According to Interior Minister Francisco Rivas, both Perez and Baldetti are accused of conspiracy, passive bribery, money laundering and fraud.

Spanish businessman Juan Jose Suarez, head of Terminal de Contenedores' local affiliate in Guatemala, was also arrested, along with eight Guatemalans including a former cabinet official under Perez.

Otto Perez and Roxana Baldetti are to appear in court on Tuesday. They deny any charges.

At the moment, both are in jail awaiting trial for allegedly heading a vast tax fraud network.

das/rc (AFP, dpa)