SAN SALVADOR – The Salvadoran Attorney General’s Office began on Friday the process of seizing real estate and other assets belonging to former President Tony Saca, who has admitted to embezzling more than $300 million in public funds during his 2004-2009 tenure.
The process began with Saca’s mansion on the slopes of the San Salvador Volcano, valued at more than $8 million, which was bought with public funds, Attorney General Douglas Melendez told reporters at the scene.
“I will do everything I can so that this building serves as a hospital for senior citizens or children,” he said.
Melendez said that the process of seizing the former president’s assets is being carried out simultaneously in several locations throughout the country.
The assets set to be confiscated include 35 properties and 46 vehicles, as well as 86 radio frequencies allotted to stations owned by Saca.
Melendez said that the assets being seized could be worth as much as $40 million.
Saca confessed in court Thursday to having issued a regulation to facilitate the embezzlement.
“The regulation allowed me to ensure an apparent legality in the use of public funds and to seize funds for personal use and to deliver to other people,” he said before the judges.
Saca, who agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a shorter sentence, said that the money was transferred to 13 bank accounts by his then-private secretary Elmer Charlaix and two other presidential aides.
He declared that ARENA, the rightist party he led, received “several million dollars” from the public treasury.
Saca said that he also paid monthly “bonuses” of between $5,000 and $10,000 to Cabinet ministers and other senior officials.
With his confession, it is expected that the judges will sentence Saca to 10 years in prison, considerably less than the 30-year maximum.
His five co-defendants, including Charlaix, also concluded plea bargains with the prosecution.