Guatemala: Former Economy Minister pleads guilty to money laundering in the United States | The most important news and analysis in Latin America | Dr..

Local media reported on Friday (July 22, 2022) that the former Guatemalan Economy Minister, Aciclo Valadares Oruela, pleaded guilty in federal court in Miami (Florida) to the crimes of “conspiracy to commit money laundering” and bribery.

Valadares has admitted funneling $350,000 in bribery payments to anonymous Guatemalan politicians through two companies with bank accounts in Miami, according to his guilty plea.

The Miami Herald reported that the former Guatemalan official, 44, also admitted receiving $140,000 to move money from an illegal source.

Valladares used the name of the telecommunications company Tigo, of which he was director, to pay bribes to Guatemalan politicians. In return, the Herald said, they helped the company win a series of lucrative government contracts in Guatemala.

According to his statement, Valadares, a lawyer by profession, before becoming Minister of Economy, was involved in a series of transactions that benefited the telecommunications company and “involved Guatemalan and American financial institutions.”

US federal prosecutors were able to file an indictment against Valadares because part of the money obtained through the corruption scheme was diverted in 2017 through Miami companies to Guatemalan politicians.

Valladares has been appointed by the Guatemalan Public Prosecutor’s Special Anti-Impunity Prosecutor for the crimes of illicit association and money laundering.

The former head of the Economic Portfolio lost his immunity as an official in January 2020, and was wanted in the Central American country in the “network of power, corruption and money laundering” case.

A plea agreement and cooperation agreement between Valadares and federal investigators and prosecutors could allow him, once his sentence, not yet determined by a judge, has been completed, to apply for a visa to remain in the United States, if he proves his life is in danger in Guatemala, the Miami Herald added.

gs (efe, The Miami Herald, Free Press)

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