US seeks extradition of Guatemalan ex-president on money laundering

Guatemalan authorities have issued an arrest warrant for former president Alfonso Portillo, after the US government requested his extradition Jan. 24 to face charges of money laundering. Portillo, who was president of Guatemala from 2000 to 2004, has been charged in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on information provided by former members of Portillo’s government. Portillo is accused 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 were dispatched to apprehend Portillo, carrying out four raids throughout the country, but Portillo has evaded capture.

In 2008, Portillo was extradited 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 in 2006, but Portillo challenged it in court, until the Mexican Supreme Court 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. (Jurist, Jan. 25)

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  1. Guatemala to extradite Alfonso Portillo
    A criminal court in Guatemala has agreed to extradite former President Alfonso Portillo to the US, where he faces money-laundering charges. Portillo was arrested in January, and has since been held in a high-security prison in Guatemala City. (BBC News, March 18)