US accuses former Bolivian cabinet minister Arturo Murillo of receiving bribes from US individuals and companies.
The United States has arrested a former cabinet minister in the interim government of Bolivia’s former president Jeanine Anez. The accusation of the former minister is bribery and money laundering.
On Wednesday, the US Justice Department accused Interior minister Arturo Murillo and his ex-chief of staff, Sergio Mendez. The statement’s accusation was of receiving bribes paid by a US company and individuals to secure a Bolivian government contract.
The department accused the pair of then using the US financial systems to launder those bribes. Three US citizens, too, were charged with an alleged bribery scheme, which took place between November 2019 and April 2020.
The Justice Department said the Americans are accused of paying $602,000 to Bolivian officials to secure a $5.6 million contract. The contract was to provide Bolivia’s defence ministry with tear gas and other non-lethal types of equipment.
The five men are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. If they get convicted, they can face up to 20 years of imprisonment.
Other charges on Murillo
Murillo is also wanted in Bolivia on incitement to rebellion charges for his role in the interim administration. Anez came to power after Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president he resigned in November 2019. Evo Morales resigned amid pressure from some of the public, the armed forces and opposition leaders. They all accused him of stealing an election a month earlier.
Morales returned from exile in November in Argentina of last year. It was after the candidate from his Movement for Socialism (MAS) party won long-awaited presidential polls.
Anez and other former officials were arrested in March and accused of carrying out a coup attempt. She was ordered to four months of pre-trial detention shortly after her arrest. However, Arturo Murillo was able to escape from Bolivia before his arrest warrant.
He played a central role in going after Morales and his important supporters with charges of sedition and terrorism. Additionally, came under fire for heavy-handed military and police responses to protests, which witnessed dozens killed.
Human rights group and international observers had criticized the Bolivian government for arresting Anez and her ministers. Also, in addition, stressing the importance of due process.