San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Guatemala

Interpol seeks Guatemalan businessman linked to government corruption scandal

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala — Interpol issued an international warrant for the arrest of a Guatemalan businessman accused of being involved in a tax fraud network that caused the resignation of Vice President Roxana Baldetti, an official source said Monday.

The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), a UN entity designated to eliminate illegal structures inside the government, published on Twitter the arrest warrant for 68-year-old businessman Luis Mendizábal.

Mendizábal is charged by the CICIG and the Guatemalan Prosecutor’s Office of being the intermediary for a group of lawyers who bribed a judge in exchange for judicial benefits for defendants in the corruption case. Dozens of high level officials are accused of being involved in the case.

The businessman’s name came up after the two entities presented some 25 wiretaps as evidence of Mendizábal’s negotiations to secure reduced bail and house arrest instead of jail for the accused.

Many Guatemalans remember Mendizábal for his role in a bizarre murder mystery in 2009, which was covered in a story by The New Yorker.

The leader of the customs tax evasion network has been identified as Juan Carlos Monzón, who was former Vice President Roxana Baldetti’s private secretary. Baldetti resigned on May 8 in the wake of the scandal. 

Monzón is currently at large and Interpol has also issued an international warrant for his arrest.

The disclosure of the illegal structure caused indignation among diverse sectors of Guatemalan society. Thousands of citizens took to the streets in large demonstrations calling for an end to government corruption and the resignation of President Otto Pérez and ex Vice President Roxana Baldetti, accusing them of knowing about the customs fraud network.

Last Saturday, one week after Baldetti’s resignation, tens of thousands of Guatemalans across the country went back to the streets to again demand President Pérez’s resignation.

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