GUATEMALA CITY – Guatemalan authorities arrested eight people – including the former head of the Tax Administration Supervisory Authority (SAT), Rudy Villeda – on corruption charges on Thursday.
The arrests were made in a series of raids staged by the Special Anti-Impunity Prosecutor’s Bureau (Feci) within the Public Ministry and supported by the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).
Moreover, the Public Ministry and CICIG also presented requests to strip a judge and the vice president of Congress, Felipe Alejos, of their parliamentary immunity on corruption charges.
Alejos, a lawmaker for the opposition TODOS party, is accused of “influence peddling and active bribery,” and Judge Adrian Rodriguez, who heads the 7th Criminal Court, has been charged with perversion of the course of justice, allegedly handing down illegal sentences based on “false facts” to favor the interests of the “Influence Peddling” network.
So far, the authorities have not revealed the case in which Villeda and the other suspects are implicated, but they announced that a press conference will be held on the matter in the coming hours.
“I worked here (at SAT) and tried to do everything according to the law. God knows that I’ve been a person with good principles,” Villeda told reporters who surrounded him upon his arrival at court.
The other detainees were identified as Marlon Estuardo Marroquin Silva, Cristian Rene Alvarez Vega, Jorge Dagoberto Arreola Lucero, Jorge Luis Monterroso Toledo, Jorge Mario Moran Sosa, Luis Fernando Leal and Igmar Walterio Iten.
Leal, the director of the Magdalena sugar processing plant, did not respond to reporters’ questions upon his arrival at court, while Iten, the head of a scrap metal firm cited in the local press on multiple occasions for tax evasion, said he was innocent, claiming that the whole thing was “a set-up.”
Moran Sosa, meanwhile, said he did not know the reasons for his arrest and admitted that he worked for 15 years until January 2017 for the Aceros de Guatemala company, an entity that has been accused of not paying some $33.3 million in tax obligations.
The former SAT chief, who headed the bureau from 2008-2012, had been arrested in 2015 in another tax case at the La Aurora international airport, but he has been free on bail since that time.