Guatemala orders new graft probe of former president, ex-VP

AP News
Posted: Jul 27, 2016 4:11 PM
Guatemala orders new graft probe of former president, ex-VP

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — A Guatemalan judge formally ordered prosecutors Wednesday to investigate former President Otto Perez Molina and his ex-vice president in another corruption case.

Miguel Angel Galvez issued the order targeting Perez Molina and Roxanna Baldetti for possible charges of bribery and money laundering in connection with an alleged criminal graft network involving 53 businesspeople, bankers, public officials and private individuals.

First Baldetti and then Perez Molina resigned last year amid revelations of a corruption and fraud network in which they have both been implicated. They deny all the accusations against them.

It's the second corruption case against Perez Molina, 65, and the third against Baldetti, 54. Both are currently jailed.

Perez Molina said he was satisfied with Wednesday's ruling because it could allow his two cases to be merged into one.

"I think the judge listened to the arguments from the lawyers," he said. "In my personal case it is a ruling that follows the law."

Prosecutors and a U.N. investigative commission in Guatemala accuse the former president of heading a criminal network and allegedly receiving some $37.9 million from companies in return for the awarding of construction contracts. Perez Molina is also accused of receiving a helicopter, a Jaguar luxury automobile, a plane and other gifts.

He and Baldetti are also implicated in a separate scandal known as "The Line," involving purported bribes paid by private businesses to avoid customs duties, and another case known as "TCQ," involving an alleged $30 million commission linked to a port expansion contract.