San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Salvadoran ex-president to face graft probe over missing $10 million from Taiwan

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – El Salvador’s former leader Francisco Flores is being investigated for suspected graft, as the government tries to locate $10 million given by Taiwan to the Central American country, President Mauricio Funes said Tuesday.

Funes suggested to reporters that the missing funds might have been skimmed or misused, and said prosecutors “are going to call him [Flores] in for questioning.”

Authorities did not immediately say when Flores would be questioned.

Funes added that the decision to move forward with a probe was a sign “that our branches of government are working. That is just what I had hoped for.”

The president first made related allegations in November; Flores has rejected them as “crazy.”

Funes, a leftist, reiterated that in his opinion, Flores – a conservative who ruled from 1999-2004 – would not be investigated if prosecutors did not have grounds to prove his guilt.

Funes recently charged that three checks – for $1 million, $4 million and $5 million – were issued by the Bank of New York, on behalf of Taiwan, and endorsed by Francisco Flores.

The checks were received by a branch of Banco Cuscatlán in Costa Rica and sent to a bank in the Bahamas, through another bank in Miami, Funes said.

Funes said Taiwan donated the money to El Salvador in the waning months of Flores’ presidency, between 2003 and 2004.

The Salvadoran legislature on Tuesday also opened a commission to investigate the case.

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