Officials announce the results of the investigation into illegal campaign financing

Authorities in Guatemala have accused jailed former President Otto Pérez Molina and his vice president in yet another illegal scheme, pointing to the depth and breadth of political corruption in the country's previous presidential administration.

The United Nations-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG) and the Guatemalan Attorney General's Office announced charges related to a massive illegal campaign finance network in a June 2 press release. More than two dozen suspects have been arrested, and several international arrest warrants have been issued in connection with the case.

According to an internationally supported investigation, Pérez Molina began the illicit campaign finance scheme after his losing presidential bid of 2007. From 2008 until the 2011 election, Pérez Molina and his soon-to-be vice president, Roxana Baldetti, allegedly created a network of companies headed by front men which laundered illicit campaign payments from businesses and individuals.

After Pérez Molina and Baldetti won the 2011 election, the investigation found, those who provided the illicit campaign funds were rewarded with favors from governmental entities. The investigation linked at least 450 state contracts to the criminal structure, and found that the illicit campaign financing amounted to at least 500 million quetzals, or about US$65.5 million.

Guatemalan authorities have previously tied Pérez Molina and Baldetti to two other major corruption schemes. One of these plots, known as "La Linea," involved companies paying bribes to customs officials in exchange for help avoiding import taxes. The other scandal involved allegations that Pérez Molina accepted bribes from a Spanish company in exchange for steering a major port development contract toward that firm.

InSight Crime Analysis

In addition to Pérez Molina and Baldetti, the illegal campaign finance network included several individuals whose names have also surfaced in connection with the other corruption investigations mentioned above. The new allegations against the former president and former vice-president suggest that they were not only personally involved in corrupt acts, but also that, in CICIG's words, they led a "criminal mafia structure that had co-opted power through the ballot box in Guatemala."   

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Elites and Organized Crime

The anti-corruption actions undertaken by CICIG and the Attorney General's Office have landed Pérez Molina and Baldetti in jail, and it appears that their criminal networks have been largely dismantled. But while the ongoing investigation and prosecution of suspects linked to political corruption during the previous presidential administration serve as signs of progress, Guatemala will undoubtedly face many challenges -- including financial constraints and judicial corruption -- as the country continues its fight against graft in the future. 

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...