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Latino Daily News

Wednesday November 30, 2011

Arrests Made in Guatemalan President’s Family Corruption Scandal

Arrests Made in Guatemalan President’s Family Corruption Scandal

Photo: Álvaro Colom

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Arrest warrants have been issued for President Alvaro Colom’s former sister-in-law and her two daughters for alleged corruption that predates the current administration, a Guatemalan prosecutor said Wednesday.

Gloria Torres and daughters Eugenia and Christa Castañeda Flores are accused of defrauding municipal governments by obtaining payment for public works that were never built, Mynor Melgar told Emisoras Unidas radio.

Eugenia Castañeda Torres was detained Wednesday at her residence in Guatemala City, but her mother and sister remain at large.

At least seven other people are wanted in connection with the case, Melgar said.

Gloria Torres helped found the governing center-left UNE party in 2000 along with her sister Sandra, who early this year divorced Colom in a bid to become the party’s presidential candidate in the September elections.

Guatemala’s constitution bars relatives of a sitting president from seeking the highest office.

While the courts ultimately barred Sandra Torres from competing in the 2011 contest, the final decision came too late for the UNE to choose another candidate.

Regarded as an expert in municipal administration, Gloria Torres was seen as a natural choice when Colom named her as his liaison with Guatemala’s mayors shortly after he took office in January 2008.

Gloria Torres and her alleged accomplices are accused of having laundered more than 1 million quetzales ($126,900) in 2005-2006, prosecutor Rolando Rodenas said Wednesday.

In a text message to Emisoras Unidas, Gloria Torres said Colom and her sister Sandra were behind the criminal prosecution, an allegation flatly denied by presidential press secretary Ronaldo Robles.

After resigning her liaison post in April, Gloria Torres filed a legal challenge to Sandra’s presidential candidacy and complained of illegalities at the UNE general assembly where her sister was selected as the party’s standard-bearer.

The man who won the presidential election, right-wing retired Gen. Otto Perez Molina, said Wednesday that the order to arrest Gloria Torres might have been politically motivated.

Perez Molina will be sworn-in as president on Jan. 14