MANHATTAN (CN) – Federal prosecutors charged the former President of Guatemala, Alfonso Portillo, with embezzling “tens of millions” of public dollars in office – including $1.5 million meant to be used to buy books for school libraries – and laundering the money through the United States and Europe.
Portillo, president from 2000 to 2004, oversaw Guatemala’s two national banks, and embezzled government money with the aid of a co-conspirator he “appointed,” and other co-conspirators, according to the grand jury indictment.
“(D)uring the course of his presidency, Portillo embezzled tens of millions of dollars worth of public funds, a portion of which he then laundered through bank accounts located, among other places, in the United States and Europe,” according to the indictment. It claims he continued laundering money through 2006.
The 16-page indictment claims Portillo embezzled $1.5 million in checks from the government of Taiwan, which were supposed to be used to buy books for school libraries, and laundered the three checks through a bank in Miami.
It claims he embezzled two more checks from the government of Taiwan, also for $500,000 each, and laundered that money through a different Miami bank.
Portillo also is accused of embezzling money from the Guatemalan Defense Department, and from one of the Guatemalan state banks, the Crédito Hipotecario Nacional.
The one-count money laundering conspiracy indictment seeks forfeiture of the allegedly laundered money and anything Portillo bought with it.