Guatemalan Ex-President Arrested for Corruption Charges
Former Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom and former finance minister Juan Alberto Fuentes Knight were arrested on Tuesday in yet another corruption investigation for the Latin American country.
Colom is among four former Guatemalan presidents to face charges of corruption while holding office. Other presidents include Alvaro Arzu, Alejandro Maldonado, and Otto Pérez Molina.
Colom and 9 of his former cabinet members are being detained in Guatemala City on charges of fraud. The charges involve the concession of a public bus deal.
The detention of Fuentes Knight, the Chairman of Oxfam International, is rather untimely as the charges occur just as Oxfam International faces allegations of sexual misconduct, involving UK aid workers in Haiti.
Though a connection between the arrests and the Oxfam International remains unclear, Fuentes Knights’ involvement in the fraudulent bus deal is apparent.
Prosecutors report that $35 million in government money was paid to a group of private bus companies, known as the Transurbano. The deal was approved by Colom, Fuentes Knight and other ministers with little to no legal oversight. According to the New York Times, “Almost a third of the money was spent on equipment that was never used, prosecutors said, and it was unclear how the rest was spent.”
Fuentes claims that even though he was one of the signatories to the deal, he noticed “anomalies” in the contract, and warned against continuing these payments. All the while, Fuentes assured Oxfam that he “cooperated fully with the investigation in the confidence he did not knowingly transgress rules or procedures.”
Weeks before the corruption allegations surfaced against Colom, the Organization of American States had appointed Colom to defend an anti-corruption commission in Honduras. In a twist of fate, the same anti-corruption commission will be hearing Colom’s case.
This Tuesday, an international panel of prosecutors will hear the testimonies of all those said to be embroiled in the scandal.