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article imageFormer Guatemala ambassador to US arrested in election finance probe

By AFP     Sep 26, 2017 in World

A fugitive former Guatemalan ambassador to the United States, Julio Ligorria, was arrested in Spain on Tuesday in connection with a probe into illegal campaign financing, officials said.

Ligorria is suspected of arranging $2 million in payments from Telgua, a Guatemalan telecoms company that is a subsidiary of America Movil, a group controlled by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, to fund the 2011 presidential campaign of former Guatemalan president Otto Perez.

Perez is currently in jail pending possible trial over alleged graft while in office. He was ousted in 2015 after the case against him was made by a UN-backed anti-corruption commission in Guatemala, triggering mass protests.

Guatemala's foreign ministry said Ligorria was arrested in Madrid and was at the "disposition" of a judge who could order his extradition.

Ligorria, who was ambassador to the US between 2013 and 2015, had fled Guatemala in July.

Spanish police said that, based on information provided by Guatemala, they discovered that Ligorria was living in the well-heeled Madrid suburb of Boadilla del Monte.

Officers arrested him at around noon in the upscale Madrid neighbourhood of Salamanca, they said in a statement.

The case against Ligorria is tied to one targeting Alejandro Sinibaldi, who was minister for communications, infrastructure and housing under Perez.

Sinibaldi, who is also a fugitive, is suspected of creating five companies in Nicaragua to launder more than $10 million in bribes received from companies seeking contracts awarded under his portfolio.

The ex-minister is also wanted on charges of alleged involvement in the purchase of a helicopter given to Perez as a gift, and allegedly taking part in a kickbacks scheme with Odebrecht, a Brazilian company accused of bribing officials across Latin America to win lucrative construction tenders.

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