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Former Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina and his vice-president, Roxana Baldetti, took at least $25 million in bribes from Spanish port company TCB, an anti-corruption commission alleges.

TCB (Terminal de Contenedores Barcelona) won a contract to operate a new container terminal on Guatemala’s Pacific coast for 25 years.

Otto Perez Molina was arrested in September after standing down amid anti-corruption protests.

The former leader is due to appear in court next week. He and Roxana Baldetti deny wrongdoing.

Attorney General Thelma Aldana said Otto Perez Molina started the approval process for the $225 million project immediately after his election in November 2011. There were no competing bids.Otto Perez Molina and Roxana Baldetti

Otto Perez Molina and Roxana Baldetti “formed a criminal group”, Thelma Aldana added.

Thelma Aldana made the announcement alongside the head of the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), Ivan Velasquez, who headed the investigation.

The commission was set in 2006 to help Guatemala reform its justice system and confront criminal gangs that had infiltrated the state.

The Spanish executive in charge of the local branch of TCB, Juan Jose Suarez, has been arrested.

Juan Jose Suarez said he had no idea why he had been detained, EFE news agency reported.

Otto Perez Molina resigned on September 2 and was arrested a day later. He said the contract offered the best deal for the country.

Anti-corruption protests had forced Roxana Baldetti to stand down in May.

In a separate scandal, Otto Perez Molina and Roxana Baldetti were accused of running a bribery scheme at Guatemala’s customs, which became known as La Linea, or The Line.


Former Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina has appeared in court after spending his first night in prison.

Otto Perez Molina, 64, rejected allegations that he was the mastermind of a customs corruption scheme dubbed La Linea, or The Line.

At least 100 people are being investigated over the scheme.

A judge in Guatemala City ordered his detention on September 3 while hearings over the corruption allegations took place.

After a second day of hearings, Otto Perez Molina was again taken from court to a military prison in the capital.

Otto Perez Molina addressed the court on September 4.

“The first thing I want to deny: I don’t belong to La Linea,” he said.

Photo EPA

Photo EPA

The former president denied taking any bribes and promised to co-operate with the investigation.

“Your honor, I am not going to risk my dignity, my work, nor all the effort I have made for Guatemala in return for $800,000,” he said, in reference to the amount prosecutors say he received illegally.

Investigators say the scheme involved businesses paying bribes to government officials and customs officers in return for being allowed to evade import duties.

Otto Perez Molina reminded the court that he had rejected much higher bribe offers from the fugitive Mexican drug lord, Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman in 1993.

The former president led the operation that led to his arrest in Guatemala.

“After his capture, I was offered 10, 15 times more than that amount in bribes [to let him go]. I didn’t do it because that goes against my principles,” Otto Perez Molina said.

Shorty Guzman, who is the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, was extradited to Mexico, but escaped from a high security jail for a second time earlier this year.

Guatemala’s Congress stripped Otto Perez Molina of his immunity from prosecution on September 1.

That opened the way for criminal charges to be brought against him.

Vice-President Alejandro Maldonado was sworn in as interim head of state ahead of elections on September 6 after Otto Perez Molina resigned on September 3.

Alejandro Maldonado is expected to govern until the new president is sworn in on January 14.

Guatemalans go to the polls on September 6 to take part in scheduled general elections.

Otto Perez Molina is constitutionally barred from seeking re-election.

Alejandro Maldonado had only been in the post of vice-president since mid-May, when his predecessor Roxana Baldetti resigned.

Roxana Baldetti is accused of involvement in the same corruption scheme that Otto Perez Molina is said to have masterminded. She is also being held in prison.

Otto Perez Molina’s resignation on September 3 and arrest are a huge victory for an unprecedented anti-corruption protest movement that had swelled in recent months, with regular marches in Guatemala’s major cities.


Thousands of Guatemalans have demonstrated in Ciudad de Guatemala, demanding the resignation of President Otto Perez Molina over a corruption scandal.

Businesses, including fast-food chains, were shut in support of the protest.

President Otto Perez Molina is facing impeachment proceedings over the affair, which has seen his former deputy Roxana Baldetti jailed and six cabinet ministers quitting in protest.

He has apologized over the scandal but denies involvement. He is due to step down at the end of his term in January.

Guatemalans are due to vote in just over a week’s time to choose his successor.Guatemala protests August 2015

Investigators have alleged that top government officials received a cut from bribes paid by businesses seeking to evade import duties.

The scandal has been dubbed “La Linea”, or “The Line”, after the hotline businesses allegedly rang to clear their imports through customs at cut-price rates.

UN-backed investigators have accused Otto Perez Molina of direct involvement in the customs scandal.

In a televised address to the nation last week, the president dismissed the allegations and insisted that his conscience was clear.

Former VP Roxana Baldetti has been arrested over her alleged involvement in the affair.

Prosecutors say she took a 50% cut from the bribes. She appeared in court on August 26, denying the charges.

On August 27, marchers took to the streets of Guatemala City, waving placards attacking corruption in the political establishment.

A committee has meanwhile been formed to consider lifting the president’s immunity from prosecution.

The committee was created after Guatemala’s Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for prosecutors to request impeachment proceedings.

Major business and religious leaders are supporting calls for President Otto Perez Molina to resign.


Guatemala’s ex-VP Roxana Baldetti has appeared in court accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes in a scandal that has rocked the government.

According to prosecutors, Roxana Baldetti took a 50% cut of illegal payments channeled to officials helping businesses evade customs duties.

Roxana Baldetti was arrested last week over the scheme and denies wrongdoing.

Photo AFP

Photo AFP

Addressing the nation on August 23, Otto Perez Molina rejected any link to the scandal and said his conscience was clear.

Eight members of his government have resigned over the allegations and nearly 30 people detained.

In court, Roxana Baldetti – who resigned in May – spoke to confirm her identity, taking notes as prosecutors played some of the wiretapped conversations that led to her detention.

The bribery scam has become known as “La Linea”, or “The Line”, after the hotline businesses allegedly rang to clear their imports through customs at cut-price rates.

Presidential elections are being held in early September, but electoral law bars Otto Perez Molina from standing for another term.

President Otto Perez Molina has faced calls to stand down from across Guatemalan society and investigators are seeking to end his immunity from prosecution.