Here are highlights about Latin American corruption, enforcement, and compliance through July 2015.
Pope Francis on LatAm graft: in his South America tour, the Pope said, “Corruption is the moth, the gangrene of a people. No politician can do his job if blackmailed by corruption … If people want to hold together, they need to banish it.”
Argentina: The first family is being investigated for links to a hotel business in Patagonia, called Hotesur case. The investigation involves suspicions of possible money laundering involving the businessman Lázaro Báez. Three days after ordering a court operating in Santa Cruz to act on the investigation, the presiding judge was removed from the case by the Federal Court.
Bolivia: The former governor of the Amazon region of Beni Carmelo Lens was jailed after a probe conducted by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of alleged corruption in the administration of the regional government. Lens was implicated in the case by former governor of the Cercado province Luis Enrique Monasterio, who claimed to have delivered a vehicle irregularly to the former governor in exchange for the approval of projects for his province.
Colombia: The Comptroller General’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, the Inspector General’s Office, and the President agreed to create a warning system for corruption (Sistema de Alertas Tempranas por Casos de Corrupción), developing a risk map by state agencies and district claims. The system will also allow officials to cross check information.
The Inspector General’s Office charged the businessman José Alfredo Abril Forero with bribery in connection with a graft scandal in the National Narcotic Office (DNE), which has led to the prosecution of more than 50 people.
Cuba: A court sentenced seven people for involvement in a graft scandal in connection with the national oil company Cupet (Cubapetroleo). Emilio Enrique Cotter, a representative of Uruguayan DFS company, arranged contracts with the Cuban SOE and allegedly bribed two specialists of the Research Center for the Chemical Industry, in exchange for a false expert inspection.
Guatemala: The Public Prosecutor’s Office arrested at least four Guatemalans in connection with a graft scandal, including Rudy Villeda Baldemar, who was head of the Tax Administration in the government of Alvaro Colom (2008-2012). According to authorities, more than $261 million in tax exemptions are under suspicion.
Honduras: The Supreme Court has ordered the arrest of the vice president of Congress and 15 other people accused of defrauding the country’s health care system in a corruption scandal that has sparked large street protests. A congresswoman from the National Party of Honduras, Lena Gutiérrez, who also holds the position of vice president of Congress, appeared along with other Astropharma’s executives and employees of the Ministry of Public Health, in an initial hearing to answer for numerous allegations, including crimes against public health, embezzlement, forgery, fraud, costing the Social Security Institute as much as $120 million They’re accused of fraud in selling drugs (some made with flour) to the Honduran Social Security Institute and the Ministry of Health.
México: Mexico’s largest airline, Grupo Aeromexico, is at the center of a price-fixing and market-manipulation investigation led by the country’s competition authority. Prosecutors conducted a dawn raid on the airline’s head office earlier this year. Competition regulator Cofece has asked Aeromexico for information about its alliance agreements with other airlines, sources said.
Panama: Former Minister of Agriculture of Panama Emilio Kieswetter was arrested for alleged corruption. The Public Prosecutor’s Office also called for embezzlement charges against another former official of Ricardo Martinelli’s government (2009-2014), which now has eight members of his former cabinet detained or under investigation.
Uruguay: At a seminar on anti-corruption practices, the secretary general of the National Anti-Money Laundering Department of the Presidency of the Republic, Carlos Diaz Fraga, said Uruguay creates a favorable laundering environment when, for example, it doesn’t require reporting of suspicious transactions throughout the non-financial sector. According to him, organized crime is in an “incipient” stage in Uruguay, but he warned that in the next five years the country will face a more serious law enforcement challenge.
Lucas Zanoni is an undergraduate student of law at University of São Paulo and a legal intern in the compliance and anti-bribery team of Chediak Advogados. The firm offers legal assistance for both Brazilian and international clients across different industries and business sectors.