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El Salvador: Sanchez Serene accused of corruption

El Salvador: Sanchez Serene accused of corruption

El Salvador’s Public Prosecution Office on Sunday indicted former President Salvador Sanchez Ceren and nine former officials in the government of Mauricio Funes on charges of money laundering and illicit enrichment.

The accusation against Sanchez Ceren as Vice President of the Republic in the Funes government, where he also served as Honorary Minister of Education and according to the Money Laundering and Asset Laundering Unit of the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) received illicit funds totaling $530,000.

The Office of the Prosecutor filed the application in the Second Peace Court against Dr. Violetta Menjevar, former Minister of Health; Juan Ramón Carlos Enrique Caceres Chavez, former Minister of Finance; Calixto Mejia, former Deputy Minister of Labor; Hugo Alexander Flores Hidalgo, former Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, and Ireland Handal Vega, former Deputy Minister of Technology.

In addition, the indictment and the arrest warrant were filed in red against Sanchez Ceren; Manuel Orlando Quinteros Aguilar, former Minister of Public Works; Lina Dolores Ball, former Minister of the Environment; Manuel Melgar, former Minister of Justice and Public Security; and Jose Guillermo Lopez Suarez, former Minister of Agriculture.

Prosecutor Rodolfo Delgado indicated that many of those involved are outside the country, and President Nepe Bukele confirmed that Sanchez Ceren left by road in December 2020 and did not return.

Most of the accused are leaders and prominent fighters of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), a political party formed from various guerrilla groups that ruled the country between 2009 and 2019 under Presidents Funes and Sanchez Ceren.

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According to the Public Prosecution, the investigation stems from the case called “public looting”, which ran from 2009 to 2014 during Funes’ term, when the Legislature approved $80.8 million for the Presidency Council for the five years of rule, but in the end ended up transfers of $351 million in money It was carried out by the former Treasury Secretary without congressional authorization.

In the application, the attorney general’s office provided details of the amounts each of those involved would have been illegally obtained, and confirmed that the money was part of the 351 million transferred in Funes’ government.

Upon entering the courts, one of the prosecutors said that they had documentary and expert evidence, and explained that the original receipts were included proving that all those involved had received these amounts outside the law. They asserted that the receipts had been checked by font experts and determined that they corresponded with the defendants.

Upon hearing the allegations of the Attorney General’s Office, Funes stated on his Twitter account: “FGR is lying. First, the alleged receipts have not been authenticated by an official expert opinion, so they cannot constitute documented evidence. Second, there is no order or acknowledgment from the presidency. to make the alleged payments valid.”

“In any case, if there was a bonus payment that has not yet been proven, it was paid by the Special Secretary of the Presidency of the Republic in his capacity as the head of the Caprice (Presidential House) administration,” he added.

Funes has five open criminal cases in various courts in El Salvador, including a trial for the transfer of $351 million that, according to the attorney general’s office, went to the accounts of personalities, family members and those close to him.

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Funes and his partner Ada Mitchell Guzman and their sons Diego Roberto and Carlos Mauricio Funes are in Nicaragua, where in September 2016 they were granted political asylum from the government of President Daniel Ortega. At the time, a civil lawsuit was underway against them for illicit enrichment and they had not yet faced an arrest warrant.

During the court appearances of the former officials, nearly a hundred of the front’s leaders, including former MPs and supporters, gathered near the judicial center to demand the immediate release of their colleagues, as “political prisoners”.