San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Report Clears Alemán of Corruption Charges

GRANADA, Nicaragua – TheNicaraguan Attorney General’s Office isthrowing its hands up in frustration thisweek, following a resolution by theComptroller’s Office clearing incarceratedformer President Arnoldo Alemán of criminalactivity in a $34.1 million embezzlementcase known as the “TaiwanDonation,” or “La Guaca II.”“I have been a lawyer for 32 years andI cannot explain what is going on with thelaws in Nicaragua,” Attorney GeneralAlberto Novoa admitted to the daily LaPrensa. “Everything is backwards …Alemán’s (situation) could now be determinedby political negotiations, rather thana legal process.”Former President Alemán (1997-2002)is two years into a 20-year jail term forbeing found guilty of $100 million worthof money laundering, embezzlement, corruptionand fraud charges.THE comptroller’s resolution claimsthat “no sufficient, pertinent or evidentialdocumentation” was found linkingAlemán’s signature to the embezzlementof funds in the “Taiwan Donation” case.The resolution does declare responsibleseven of Alemán’s former associates,including his former Finance Minister,Esteban Duque Estrada, who is a fugitivefrom justice and thought to be in Panama.Several of the other individuals implicatedin the comptroller’s report, some ofwhom still work in government, have filedlegal appeals before the Supreme Court.With the exception of former TaxDirector Byron Jerez, who is serving aneight-year house arrest for money launderingand corruption, none of the other implicatedindividuals are behind bars.ALEMÁN’S defense lawyers andfamily members immediately interpretedthe comptroller’s resolution as evidencethe former President is innocent and jailedunjustly. They are demanding his immediaterelease.Novoa, however, claims the AttorneyGeneral’s Office has ample documentationand evidence proving Alemán’s guilt, notonly in the case of the “Taiwan Donation,”but in various other cases that add up to$81 million in stolen state funds.“The embezzlement and fraud this guydid has been demonstrated to the nationaland international community,” Novoa said.“This can’t be erased by any resolution.”THE comptroller’s resolution alsoisn’t likely to change the U.S. government’sopinion about Alemán. Accordingto an EFE wire report, the United Statesannounced Nov. 9 it will give Nicaragua$671,000 confiscated from the sale of ahelicopter linked to Alemán and Jerez. Thetwo reportedly purchased the helicopterwith embezzled Nicaraguan funds and thenrented it from themselves using additionalstate money.The Comptroller’s Office is rejectingclaims that the resolution is political innature – an effort to free Alemán as part ofhis pact with Sandinista party boss DanielOrtega.Manuel Espinoza, spokesman for theComptroller’s Office, told The Tico Timesthis week that the resolution is the culminationof a two-year audit requested by theAttorney General’s Office.HE said the resolution is not intendedto absolve Alemán of all corruptioncharges; it is just a statement of fact thatthe documents audited by the Comptrollerdid not contain Alemán’s signature.Espinoza said the Comptroller’s Officedoesn’t expect the resolution to changeAlemán’s situation.“He is already subject to a judicial resolution,”Espinoza said. “It’s too late tohelp him.”

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