Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Portillo Embezzlement Could Exceed Q120 Million

Investigators continue to uncover more and more financial shenanigans by ex-President Alfonso Portillo.

In 2001, Portillo approved several transfers of funds to Defense from the ministries of Education, Health, and Administration, estimated at Q906 million even though the country was at peace.

So far, approximately Q120 million has been verified as transfered to accounts of Jose Armando Llort Quiteño, former president of the National Mortgage Bank (CHN) . The Ministerio Publico requested a release from bank secrecy on two accounts which was approved by a judge. Twenty more accounts are under investigation as well as the individuals and businesses that may have benefited from public funds.

The former president remains free on bond. The Fifth Court of First Criminal Instance imposed a bail of one Q1 million after Portillo was extradited from Mexico, where he lived for over four years in order to avoid investigations.

Witnesses state that of the funds sent to Defense, checks were given to the workers who who cashed them and then delivered the cash to senior military leaders, to Portillo, and then Defense Minister Eduardo Arevalo Lacs. Five witnesses, one of whom was killed in March 2005, described how Q34 million came into the hands of Llort. Llort has betrayed Portillo and turned state's evidence, giving testimony in the United States against the former leader and the group of military leaders who architected the embezzlement from the state budget.

Another witness, Salomón Molina Girón, CHN's former deputy, said that on the nights of March 5, 6, and 9 of 2001 the military moved cash from the army's accounts to the vaults of the bank (CHN). According to the witness, the shipments were made at night in an armored truck and allegedly guarded by soldiers under the command of the military and Napoleon Rojas Jacobo Sal.

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