Bank security

Central Bank of Guatemala and security chiefs arrested

Guatemala City—The heads of Guatemala’s central bank and social security administration were arrested on Wednesday for corruption, prosecutors said, the latest blow to beleaguered President Otto Perez.
Julio Suarez, director of the Central Bank of Guatemala, and Juan de Dios Rodriguez, president of the Guatemalan Social Security Institute (IGSS), are accused of fraud in a $14.5 million contract for dialysis services for patients covered by IGSS health insurance.
The prosecution accuses them of corruption, influence peddling and the taking of illegal commissions in the context of the contract which awarded the dialysis concession to a pharmaceutical company called PISA last December.
Members of the IGSS board of directors and two PISA executives were also arrested.
Suarez and Rodriguez are the latest figures to fall in the Perez administration, which has also been hit hard by a separate scandal over a customs corruption ring.
Vice President Roxana Baldetti resigned this month after one of her top aides was accused of involvement in the scheme.
Perez has faced large protests calling on him to step down.
The latest case will likely fuel the fire, as Perez had appointed Rodriguez to his post in 2013 with the express mission of fighting corruption at the IGSS.
A close confidante, Rodriguez previously served as the president’s personal secretary.
The arrests came as thousands of indigenous Guatemalans and farmers took to the streets of Guatemala City in the latest protest demanding Perez’s resignation.
“Resign brother, jail awaits” and “Stop the corruption,” read some of the placards carried by the protesters.
Perez said Suarez and Rodriguez betrayed his trust and that of the country.
“I accept some responsibility, because I trusted these individuals. But that does not make me responsible for what they did. They cheated the trust I had placed in them”, a- he declared.
He announced that he had fired the head of the presidential anti-corruption commission, Veronica Taracena, who had been appointed by Baldetti.

AFP