NGOs Corner Pérez Molina in Pharma Corruption Scheme
Three Guatemalan NGOs filed a criminal complaint on Sunday, May 31, against Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina for his alleged involvement in a corruption scandal involving the Guatemalan State Institute for Social Security (IGSS).
Last month, Guatemalan authorities arrested 17 officials within Pérez Molina’s administration in connection with the purchase of overcharged pharmaceutical supplies totaling US$14.5 million.
Pharmaceutical company Pisa was awarded a contract to provide treatment for kidney-related conditions. However, its lack of expertise in the area led to the death of 11 patients, while dozens became seriously ill.
Three local NGOs have filed a complaint seeking to expand the investigation and establish whether Molina can be held responsible for the events.
The UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) meanwhile released a taped conversation between an employee of the pharmaceutical company, Rodolfo García-Granados, and an unidentified individual, in which García-Granados asks why another contract was not awarded to Pisa.
García Granados can also be heard talking with Otto Fernando Molina Stalling, an advisor the IGSS, where they appear to establish kickbacks of 15 and 16 percent for public officials in order to secure a multimillion dollar contract. Molina Stalling, who is currently under arrest, is the son of Supreme Court Justice Blanca Stalling.
The investigation into the corruption scheme has centered on Pérez Molina after his one-time personal secretary and former director of the IGSS, Juan de Dios Rodríguez, was arrested as one of the main suspects.
Guatemalan authorities also arrested former Central Bank Chairman Julio Suárez Guerra, who maintained that it wasn’t his responsibility to oversee the contract-awarding process.
Guatemala has has recently been rocked by two two explosive corruption scandals implicating the country’s top authorities. Earlier in 2015, investigators uncovered a multimillion customs-fraud scheme, and arrested 21 current and former customs officials.
Investigators uncovered evidence that the private secretary to former Vice President Roxana Baldetti was heading up the corruption scheme dubbed La Línea (the line), forcing her to resign.
Source: La Prensa.