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Guatemala starts probe into bribery allegations linked to president

Guatemala starts probe into bribery allegations linked to president

Prosecutors in Guatemala have begun an investigation into allegations that Russian businessmen paid a bribe to President Alejandro Giammattei to obtain a dock in one of the country’s main ports, the attorney general’s office said on Friday.
Juan Luis Pantaleon, spokesman for the Guatemalan attorney general’s office, said anti-corruption prosecutors had opened the probe, underlining that Giammattei was not currently under investigation because no impeachment proceedings had begun.

Patricia Letona, a spokeswoman for Giammattei, said the president’s office had no immediate comment on the matter.

The allegations were initially raised in public by Juan Francisco Sandoval, who was head of the Guatemalan Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity (FECI) until his removal by Guatemalan Attorney General Maria Porras in July.

According to Sandoval, the four Russian businessmen with mining interests in Guatemala sent the bribe inside a carpet in April, seeking space to establish a dock in the Caribbean port of Santo Tomas de Castilla. The Guatemala-based mining company linked to the men denied that any bribe had been paid.
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