US accuses former Bolivian minister of corruption and money laundering

US accuses former Bolivian minister of corruption and money laundering

The United States has arrested a former minister in the interim government of former Bolivian President Jeanine Anez for corruption and money laundering.
In a statement Wednesday, the US Department of Justice accused former Home Secretary Arturo Murillo and his former chief of staff Sergio Mendez “of receiving bribes from an American company and individuals to obtain a contract with the Bolivian government ”.

The department accused the two men of “then using the American financial system to launder these bribes.”

Three US citizens have also been charged with the alleged corruption scheme, which took place between November 2019 and April 2020.

The Americans are accused of paying $ 602,000 to Bolivian officials, the justice ministry said, to secure a $ 5.6 million contract to supply the Bolivian defense ministry with tear gas and other equipment non-lethal.

The five men are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. If found guilty, they face up to 20 years in prison.

Murillo is also wanted in Bolivia for sedition for his role in the interim administration of Anez.

Anez came to power after Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, resigned in November 2019 under pressure from parts of the public, the armed forces and opposition leaders who accused him of stealing an election a month earlier.

Morales returned from exile in Argentina in November last year after his party’s Movement for Socialism (MAS) candidate won the long-awaited presidential elections.

Anez and other former officials were arrested in March on charges of attempted a coup attempt. She was sentenced to four months in pretrial detention shortly after her arrest.

But Murillo left Bolivia before his arrest warrant.

He played a central role in the prosecution of Morales and his main supporters for sedition and terrorism and has been criticized for brutal military and police responses to the protests, which have left dozens dead.

Human rights groups and international observers criticized the Bolivian government for arresting Anez and his ministers and stressed the importance of due process.


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