Article: US state department names more than 50 corrupt officials in Central America

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US state department names more than 50 corrupt officials in Central America

Associated Press in Guatemala City, 01 July 2021

The US state department has named more than 50 current and former officials, including former presidents and active lawmakers, suspected of corruption or undermining democracy in three Central American countries.

Among the most prominent figures on the list are former Honduras president José Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo Sosa and his wife Rosa Elena Bonilla de Lobo. The State Department report alleges Lobo Sosa took bribes from a drug cartel and his wife was involved in fraud and misappropriation of funds. Both deny the allegations. Bonilla’s conviction on related charges was invalidated by the supreme court last year and she is awaiting a new trial.

Perhaps as significant as Lobo Sosa’s inclusion, was the omission of the current Honduras president, Juan Orlando Hernández. US prosecutors in New York have suspected Hernández funded his political ascent with bribes from drug traffickers, but he has not been formally charged. His brother, former federal lawmaker Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández, was sentenced in New York in March to life in prison after he was convicted over what prosecutors described as “state-sponsored drug trafficking”.

In El Salvador, former cabinet officials, a judge and the cabinet chief for President Nayib Bukele were placed on the list. Carolina Recinos, chief of staff, was named on a shorter state department list in May, but administration officials say she has maintained her presence in the presidential offices. Thursday’s list alleges she “engaged in significant corruption by misusing public funds for personal benefit” and participated in a money laundering scheme.

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