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Guatemala Prosecutors Detail Probe into Odebrecht Bribes


Supporters of political leader Keiko Fujimori wait outside the prosecutor's office while she responds to questions regarding the Odebrecht corruption case, in Lima, Peru, Dec. 28, 2017.

Prosecutors revealed details Wednesday of an investigation into $17.9 million in bribes allegedly paid by the Brazilian company Odebrecht to local officials, politicians and private citizens in Guatemala.

Odebrecht has admitted paying bribes across Latin America to win government contracts, and Guatemalan chief prosecutor Thelma Aldana said at a news conference that investigators have records for bank accounts used for their payment and receipt in the Central American nation.

Former Communications Minister Alejandro Sinibaldi is alleged to have coordinated receipt and distribution of the money and to have taken in $9 million. Sinibaldi is currently a fugitive from justice.

Also purportedly involved was former presidential candidate Manuel Baldizon, who was detained recently in Florida on an international arrest warrant. Baldizon is alleged to have received at least $1.3 million as a product of bribes.

Another suspect is Arturo Batres Gil, an alleged frontman for businesspeople who is believed to have received $4.9 million.

Prosecutors have not ruled out that more people may have been involved.

Aldana said two people of Brazilian origin acknowledged delivering bribes and paid $68,000 in fines apiece. By law they could not be tried in Guatemala since they are already facing a legal case in Brazil.

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