GUATEMALA CITY — Guatemalan prosecutors have opened an investigation into allegations that Russian residents paid a bribe to the nation’s president, Alejandro Giammattei, a spokesman for the lawyer basic’s workplace stated Friday.
The inquiry arose out of knowledge publicized in media reviews, stated the spokesman, Juan Luis Pantaleón, who famous that it started on Wednesday, so investigators are within the first levels of their work on the case.
The announcement follows a New York Occasions report final month that described explosive testimony by a witness who stated he had personally delivered a rolled-up carpet stuffed with packages of money to the president’s dwelling.
Guatemala’s high anti-corruption prosecutor had begun to look into the allegations with a small staff of investigators, figuring out that the witness had probably stumbled upon a plot by a Russian-backed mining firm to bribe the president for the best to function a part of a key port. However simply weeks after their inquiry started, the prosecutor, Juan Francisco Sandoval, was abruptly dismissed by the lawyer basic and fled to the USA with the proof he had compiled.
In an announcement to The Occasions final month, the president’s workplace denied that Mr. Giammattei had accepted bribes however confirmed his “absolute dedication” to clear up confusion across the accusations. The U.S. Division of Justice had already been trying into allegations, a U.S. official stated.
The information of the brand new inquiry by Guatemalan authorities got here on the identical day that the lawyer basic issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Sandoval for a breach of duties and obstruction of a legal case, in line with native media reviews. Mr. Pantaleón confirmed that the arrest warrant had been issued however wouldn’t specify the fees.
The lawyer basic, María Consuelo Porras, publicly criticized Mr. Sandoval’s work earlier this week, saying that he had by no means knowledgeable her concerning the bribery inquiry and had illegally eliminated inner paperwork.
In retaliation for Mr. Sandoval’s firing, the USA introduced in July that it might now not work with the lawyer basic’s workplace and stated officers had “misplaced confidence” in Ms. Porras. However the Biden administration has continued to work with Mr. Giammattei on migration enforcement, a key space of collaboration between the 2 nations. In July, the administration resumed flights straight expelling migrants to Guatemala.
In a statement released on Twitter, Mr. Sandoval accused the lawyer basic of spearheading an effort to “criminalize and prosecute” those that contributed to the combat towards corruption in Guatemala.