The Secretary of Administrative Affairs and Security of Guatemala announced that it would return nearly a third of all the luxurious expenses made between 2016 and 2017 by President Jimmy Morales. The move takes place amid mass protests for him to step down due to corruption allegations Tuesday.
The refund, which amounts to roughly 113,356 Quetzal (approximately US $15,318) was made on April 19 in compliance with the requirements of the Comptroller General of Accounts.
Cesar Elias, the public expenditure subcontractor, said the expenses incurred were “not appropriate,” despite the Secretariat confirming them during Morales' first two years in office.
“When there is insufficient proof that the purchases served to develop activities conducted by the Secretariat of the Presidency... the expenses are returned to the State,” Elias said. Once the funds are returned “we make corresponding recommendations so that such expenses are not made in the future.” When the money is reintegrated "we are satisfied and we make the corresponding recommendations so that in the future they do not make the expenses that do not correspond."
An investigation conducted by the local newspaper Nuestro Diario and published in January revealed that the Secretariat of Administrative Affairs of the Presidency had spent more than 350,000 Quetzales (approximately US $47,297) in 2016 and 2017 on whiskey bottles (one of them costing US $500) flowers in access of $6,800, jewelry paintings, sportswear, and food.
Jewelry purchases returned included earrings and other gifts. Morales is also said to have purchased tennis gear, which he used to play matches against U.S. Ambassador Luis Arreaga few weeks after he assumed his diplomatic responsibilities on Oct. 3, 2017.
Thousands took to the streets of Guatemala City Tuesday to demand Morales' resignation amid a second round of illicit electoral financing investigations.