El Salvador Arrests Former First Lady in $351 Million Embezzlement Scheme
Former El Salvador President Mauricio Funes and his immediate family alongside 30 former associates are facing charges for a massive corruption scheme. Funes was accused of stealing over $292 million from the country’s mortgage bank, with prosecutors saying the former leader carted away millions of the money in garbage bags. Now Funes’ ex-wife has been added to the growing list of people implicated in the Funes corruption scandal.
Funes was President of El Salvador from 2009 to 2014 and has been living in exile in Nicaragua since 2016. He was the leader of the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, a party that lost power following the 1980-1992 civil war and only came back to the forefront of El Salvador’s politics with Funes’ rise to power, according to Reuters.
Funes Entire Family with 30 Former Associates and Private Secretary under Probe
Authorities ordered Funes’ arrest two weeks ago, alongside his two accused sons and former associates for their roles in the scandal, Business Anti-Corruption reports. Last Tuesday, the authorities also arrested Funes’ ex-wife, former First Lady Vanda Pignato for her alleged role in a $351 million embezzlement scheme orchestrated by Funes; his former secretary and long-time partner, Ada Guzman Siguenza, is also facing an arrest order.
Prosecutors allege that Funes embezzled public funds for trips, renovating and remodeling his houses, and settling hospital bills. Funes’ former secretary, Ada Guzman Siguenza, was said to have undergone plastic surgery in Beverly Hills using public funds released to her by Funes.
Funes Denies All Allegations, Saying Current Government Is Only Out To Witch-Hunt Him
Funes, who was president of El Salvador from 2009 to 2014, has publicly denied all allegations of financial misappropriations leveled against him. He tweeted that distractors are only following a Hollywood movie script and conducting a witch-hunt of him. He went further to state that the current administration is out to victimize him and drag his reputation in the mud.
O sea que ahora los investigadores "profesionales" y acusadores de la FGR construyen sus casos siguiendo el guión de las películas de Hollywood. ¿Cuántas películas habrá tenido que ver Douglas Meléndez y Jorge Cortez para "montar" el caso "Operación Saqueo Público"? pic.twitter.com/ElnS510MCK
— Mauricio Funes (@FunesCartagena) June 12, 2018