Brother of Guatemala’s ex-VP Roxana Baldetti, 12 others arrested for fraud

February 23, 2016

GUATEMALA CITY – The brother of Guatemala’s former Vice President Roxana Baldetti and 12 others were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of fraud involving contracting an Israeli company to clean up a polluted lake, police said.

Mario Baldetti and the others – several of whom were former government workers – were accused of wrongdoing by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), a United Nations-backed body whose investigations into Guatemala corruption helped bring down the country’s previous government last year.

Lake Amatitlán, Guatemala
Three girls walk along the shores of Lake Amatitlán, 35 km south of Guatemala City. Johan Ordóñez/AFP

Roxana Baldetti and former President Otto Pérez Molina are in jail pending a possible trial on charges they were involved in a ring in which senior officials accepted bribes in return for cutting import duties for several companies.

The CICIG arrested Mario Baldetti and the 12 others for involvement in awarding an $18 million contract to an Israeli company to pour a cleaning chemical into Lake Amatitlán, south of the capital, to clean it up.

Environmentalists have questioned the efficacy of the chemical and claimed there were abnormalities in the tender process.

Prosecutors said they would also seek testimony from the former vice president, given that she was a driving force behind the clean-up project.

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