Guatemala prosecutors find US$16 million stash

Guatemala prosecutors find US$16 million stash

Friday, October 16, 2020

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GUATEMALA CITY,Guatemala(AFP) — Anti-corruption investigators in Guatemala announced Friday they had seized US$16 million in cash stashed in suitcases at a disused house.

The money, in dollars, euros and local currency quetzales, was found in 22 suitcases stacked in the bathroom of an abandoned house in theCaribbeanseaside resort of Antigua, said Guatemala's top anti-graft investigator, Juan Francisco Sandoval.

Sandoval, who heads the office of the Special Prosecutor against Impunity (FECI),said the stash was probably bribes that had been paid to a former civil servant.

He told reporters the residence was searched following "information about the existence of a property in which large sums of money were stored".

"This money could be the product of illicit commissions from an official or a government administration prior to the current one," he said.

He declined to go into further details so as not to hinder the investigation.

Cameras were also found at the scene, supposedly monitoring movements at the house.

FECI investigates major corruption cases in the Central American country.

It has worked hand-in-hand with the now-defunct International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).

That UN-backed anti-corruption body revealed several scandals before it was shut down in 2019 by then president Jimmy Morales after it began investigating him.

One of its key successes was uncovering a massive customs fraud that led to the resignation in 2015 of then-president Otto Perez.

He was charged in 2017 with racketeering, illicit enrichment and fraud as the mastermind of a multimillion-dollar scheme involving Guatemala's customs duty system.

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