SAN SALVADOR – Former Salvadoran President Tony Saca confessed in court on Thursday to having issued a regulation to facilitate the embezzlement and laundering of more than $300 million in public funds during his 2004-2009 tenure.
“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.
The ex-president, 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 explained that he also paid monthly “bonuses” of between $5,000 and $10,000 to Cabinet ministers and other senior officials.
The former president also paid Jorge Hernandez, once El Salvador’s most prominent television news anchor, $10,000 per month to ensure “extensive and favorable coverage.”
With this confession, it is expected that the judges will sentence Saca to 10 years in prison, considerably less than the 30-year maximum.
Saca’s five co-defendants, including Charlaix, also concluded plea bargains with the prosecution.