Authorities opened an investigation on Thursday of a suspected network of ghost employees in Congress. Congressman Pedro Muadi has been linked to the alleged creation of 15 contracts of “ghost employees,” which are individuals recorded on a payroll system but who don’t actually work for that company or organization. It is believed that Congressman Muadi created these faulty contracts for security staff for a private company he owns. The CICIG requested the Supreme Court to carry out a pretrial investigation to remove Muadi’s immunity.
New York Times Op-Ed: “America’s Second Chance in Guatemala”
An Op-Ed by Anita Isaacs was featured in this week’s New York Times, in which Isaacs argues for more direct involvement by the US in Guatemala’s anti-corruption movement. Isaacs claims that the US has “turned its back” on hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans who have come together to demand the resignation of President Pérez Molina. She also argues that US officials, including Ambassador Todd Robinson, are manipulating the weakened political situation in Guatemala to pursue their own agenda. Isaacs expresses deep skepticism of Pérez Molina’s willingness to follow through on his commitments to carry out anti-corruption efforts.
Guatemalan authorities have arrested 12 people, both civilians as well as current and former police officers, who are linked to a suspected corruption network within the Interior Ministry as well as the National Civil Police. Prosecutors and CICIG personnel believe that these 12 individuals were connected to questionable contracts, worth Q52 million ($6.4 million) to maintain patrol cars and renovate police stations. Among those arrested is the ex-Deputy Director of Support and Logistics of the National Civil Police Hector Rodriguez Heredia. The CICIG and Public Prosecutor’s Office will be tasked with the operation. The charges against them are illicit association, fraud, extortion, illicit enrichment, and money laundering.
Former Vice President Roxana Baldetti attended a legal hearing on Monday regarding her petition for the return of properties frozen during the corruption investigation. The appeals court upheld a lower court’s decision to prohibit access to those assets while the investigation continues.
The Guatemalan Court of Civil Forfeiture subsequently rejected Baldetti’s appeal to regain the properties seized at the start of her corruption investigation. Authorities seized three of Baldetti’s homes, and the court order prohibits Baldetti and her husband from selling the properties or changing the deeds in any way.