Guatemalan authorities accused former president Otto Perez and his vice president Roxana Baldetti Thursday of further corruption for their involvement in bribes and public contracts amid an investigation into widespread corruption.
According to the investigation, officials and businessmen started using a "mechanism" during the 2011 elections to hide bribes, pulling in at least $US130 million. The scheme continued until the resignation of Perez and Baldetti, who are both in jail pending trial for customs fraud. Perez has denied any involvement in the fraud.
The attorney general's office and the Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, a U.N.-backed body that was key in Perez's fall, said Perez and Baldetti took at least 60 percent of the funds for themselves, to live a life of luxury.
"We are facing a criminal structure that had co-opted power ... with the ultimate goal of illegal enrichment," Attorney General Thelma Aldana said at a news conference, adding that the organization was led by Perez and Baldetti.
The newest charges against Perez and Baldetti include illicit campaign financing, illegal association, passive bribery, and money-laundering.
The investigation is looking at 450 cases of illicit contracts, involving bankers, officials, and businessmen such as the legal representative of Sigma, Guatemala's most important construction firm, as well as people who acted as front men to hide the source of funds.
Authorities arrested 23 people during the day and sent seven international orders for capture, including for Alba Lorenzana, the wife of Mexican media magnate Angel Gonzalez and a partner in his companies.
This is the third pending case for Perez and the fourth for Baldetti, who are also accused of arranging bribes with a Spanish firm in exchange for a port concession.