US seeks extradition of Guatemala ex-president on money laundering charges

US seeks extradition of Guatemala ex-president on money laundering charges

[JURIST] Guatemalan authorities have issued an arrest warrant for former president Alfonso Portillo [CIDOB profile, in Spanish], after the US government requested his extradition on Sunday to face charges of money laundering [indictment; press release, PDF]. Portillo, who was president of Guatemala from 2000 to 2004, has been charged [El Periodico report, in Spanish] in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] on information provided by former members of Portillo's government. Portillo is accused [BBC report] of taking $15.8 million from funds designated for the Guatemalan Ministry of Defense and siphoning it into bank accounts in Europe and Bermuda. More than 100 officers of the National Civil Police, members of the army, and officers of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala [official website] were dispatched to apprehend Portillo, carrying out four raids throughout the country, but Portillo has evaded capture.

In 2008, Portillo was extradited [JURIST report] back to Guatemala from Mexico, where he had fled after his immunity expired along with his term in office. The extradition order was first signed [JURIST report] in 2006, but Portillo challenged it in court, until the Mexican Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] ruled against him in January 2008. Numerous members of Portillo's cabinet have been arrested and tried on fraud charges during his time in exile.

1/26/10 – Portillo has been captured in Guatemala and is being transported to that country's capital.