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News > Latin America

New Fraud Arrests as Guatemala Perez Molina Closer to Losing Presidential Immunity

  • Masked Guatemalan protesters demonstrating against government corruption carry a sign saying

    Masked Guatemalan protesters demonstrating against government corruption carry a sign saying "Resign Now" directed at President Perez Molina. | Photo: Reuters

Published 24 June 2015

The latest corruption network to surface in Guatemala implicates the national police force in a US$6.7 million fraud scandal.

Guatemala's Constitutional Court has approved public hearings to receive arguments for and against the immunity-stripping process against President Perez Molina, Guatemala's Prensa Libre reported Wednesday.

If his presidential immunity is removed, Perez Molina could be tried for corruption.

The hearings will aim to help judges reach a decision, after the head of the Constitutional Court called for charges against the president to be defined within eight days.

RELATED: Guatemala Presidential Fraud Probe Suspended as Scandal Deepens

The Constitutional Court suspended the congressional investigation, ordered by the Supreme Court, into President Perez Molina over alleged corruption last week, granting temporary protections to Perez Molina requested by a third party.

The news comes a day after at least 11 people, including several former national police and government officials, were detained for links to a fraud network scandal in the country's Ministry of the Interior and police force. The arrest are part of an ongoing effort led by the attorney general and U.N. accountability body, the CICIG, to root out corruption.

Detainees were charged with illicit association, illicit enrichment, money laundering, and fraud related to the diversion of US$6.7 million from the Ministry of the Interior.

RELATED: Majority of Guatemalans Agree President Should Resign Now

Among those arrested were former head of the Ministry of the Interior, Mauricio Lopez, who resigned last month, and former Deputy Director of logistical support of the national police force, Hector Rodriguez.

Preliminary investigation into the newly revealed fraud network suggests millions of dollars were diverted from the national police budget and to personal accounts and a company in Panama created by the corruption ring to receive embezzled funds.

“Justice: CICIG releases image of the criminal structure captured for fraud in the National Civil Police.”

The latest multi-million dollar corruption scandals deals yet another blow to the administration of President Perez Molina, whose resignation has been called for by popular mobilizations since the government corruption began to surface in April.

RELATED: Marches in Guatemala Mark Historical Moment

Last month, a CICIG investigation uncovered the structure of a customs agency fraud ring known as La Linea, revealing government officials including the secretary of former Vice President Roxana Baldetti among the upper echelons of the multi-million dollar tax fraud network.

Popular “Resign Now” protests continue to call for an end to government corruption and immediate resignation of Perez Molina ahead of the country's general elections this fall.

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