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  •  Samuel Morales, the president’s older brother and political adviser, faced up to 11 years in prison.

    Samuel Morales, the president’s older brother and political adviser, faced up to 11 years in prison. | Photo: Kenneth Monzon @kmonzon_pl

Published 19 August 2019

Samuel Morales, the president’s older brother, and political adviser, and Jose Manuel Morales, the president’s eldest son, were accused of defrauding the land registry of US$12,000 in 2013.

A Guatemalan court acquitted Monday two to one the eldest son and brother of outgoing President Jimmy Morales, in a corruption case that sparked the head of state's feud with the United Nations-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).

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In January 2017, the Attorney General’s office and the anti-corruption commission accused both Samuel Morales, the president’s older brother and political adviser, and Jose Manuel Morales, the president’s eldest son, of defrauding the land registry of US$12,000 in 2013, using false invoices, before Morales was elected.

The case centered on invoices submitted by the mother of Jose Manuel’s then-girlfriend after she agreed to supply Christmas hampers to officials at the public institution. 

The woman sent the registry a bill made out in the name of a local restaurant for 564 breakfasts, not Christmas hampers, but the breakfasts were never delivered.

Morales’ brother admitted he helped obtain the fake invoice from the restaurant as a favor to his nephew, but denied it was fraudulent. He faced up to 11 years in prison, while Jose Manuel a jail term of up to 8 years over the scandal.

The Court ruled that "there was no intentionality" of the defendant Jose Manuel Morales n "or economic benefit" in relation to fraud on an ongoing basis. They also indicated that neither was Sammy Morales intentionality to defraud the State.

The former Land Registrar, Anabella de Leon, was accused of embezzlement and sentenced to pay a fine of US$651. 

The probe, which was led by the CICIG soured the relations with the president, and later in 2017, the commission tried to impeach Jimmy Morales, himself for alleged campaign finance irregularities. 

Yet unlike his imprisoned predecessor, Otto Perez, who was brought down by a separate CICIG corruption probe in 2015, the president survived a vote in Congress to strip him of immunity.

Afterward, Morales, declared war on the CICIG accusing the commission of abuse of power. The outgoing president succeeded in expelling the commission from the country, who’s mandate will end in September.

Guatemala’s President-elect right-wing Alejandro Giammattei from the Vamos party, who swears in on January, will probably maintain the U.N.-backed commission out of the country as he said many times his administration will fight corruption without "foreign interference."

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