Statement 081 | Photo: El Sancarlista U.
The High-Risk Court “C” sentenced earlier this morning the former Vice President Ingrid Roxana Baldetti Elías to 15 years and 6 months in prison, and nine other people with sentences between three and 13 years in prison, who were found guilty of being a part of a criminal organization whose purpose was to grant a contract to clean up Lake Amatitlán and defrauded the Guatemalan State for the sum of Q22,830,030.00.
After 43 court sessions, the judges found enough evidence against the 10 accused persons, and convicted them as follows:
- Ingrid Roxana Baldetti Elías(former Vice President of the Republic and leader of the criminal group). Illicit association (8 years), fraud (5 years) and influence-peddling (2 years and 6 months). She coordinated and authorized actions, together with his brother Mario Baldetti, to secure and facilitate the fraudulent granting of a contract to M. Tarcic Engineering Limited to clean up Lake Amatitlán.
- Mario Alejandro Baldetti Elías. Illicit association (6 years), fraud (5 years) and influence-peddling (2 years and 6 months). He coordinated and facilitated, with the help of his sister Ingrid Roxana Baldetti, the awarding of a contract for the alleged cleanup of Lake Amatitlán.
- Hugo Rodolfo RoitmanBraier(representative of M. Tarcic Engineering Limited). Illicit association (6 years), fraud (5 years); acquitted of the active bribery charges. He benefited with Q.2,318,771.82 through the award of the contract to clean Lake Amatitlán.
- Pablo Roberto González Barrios(former Secretary for specific water issues). Illicit association (7 years and 8 months), fraud (5 years); acquitted of the active bribery charges.
- Jorge Mario de Jesús Cajas Cordova (former Legal Counsel of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, MARN). Illicit association (6 years) and fraud (5 years).
- Edvin Francisco Ramos Soberanis(former Executive Director of the Authority and Sustainable Management of Lake Amatitlán and its Basin, AMSA). Failure to perform his duties (3 years, non-commutable). Acquitted of the fraud charges.
- John Edy Estuardo Diaz Sandoval (former Deputy Director of AMSA). Illicit association (7 years and 8 months), fraud (5 years); acquitted of the active bribery charges.
- Lizbeth Maria Alonzo Azurdiade Constanza (former Director of the Legal Department of AMSA). Illicit association (7 years and 8 months) and fraud (5 years).
- Sandra Ninet García España de Benavente (former Director of the Administrative and Financial Department of AMSA). Illicit association (7 years and 8 months) and fraud (5 years).
- Allan Franco De León(former Coordinator of the Project to Clean Lake Amatitlán, appointed by M. Tarcic Engineering Limited). Fraud (5 years) and illicit association (6 years).
- Rubén Estuardo Torres Anleu (former worker of MARN). Passive bribery.
- Sergio Alejandro MarroquínVivar (former worker of M. Tarcic Engineering Limited). Active bribery.
- Marilyn Anabella Sosa Azurdia (former Assistant of Pablo González Barrios). Passive bribery.
Money Laundering Investigation
Although the three defendants mentioned above were acquitted for the referred crimes, the Court ordered them to be investigated for the crime of money laundering along with Hugo Rodolfo RoitmanBraier, Sergio MarroquínVivar, Juan Edy Estuardo Diaz Sandoval, and Pablo González Barrios. Also, the Court ordered Brayan Vitola and the companiesrelated to him to be investigated together with the company Marine Group.
The Court presided over by Judge Pablo Xitumul, argued that the evidence presented during the proceedings confirmed the participation of all the persons convicted.
“It is a complex case of corruption and impunity, where a criminal organization committed white-collar crimes from the highest governmental spheres, under the leadership of the accused Ingrid Roxana Baldetti Elías, in collusion with his brother Mario Alejandro Baldetti Elías, and with the close involvement of Pablo Roberto González Barrios and Hugo Rodolfo RoitmanBraier; who, together with the others involved, including public sector employees and private sector stakeholders, agreed to commit the crimes imputed, causing the community to feel defenseless (…),” the ruling states.
It was proved, through scientific analysis, that the formula that would allegedly clean Lake Amatitlánwas merely water with salt, chlorine and other dangerous and corrosive substances for people, animals, and plants and for the environment. Furthermore, the project lacked the respective environmental impact assessments and the relevant health registrations and licenses.
Nonetheless, “the defendants continued to force the purchase of twenty-three thousand liters of this unknown substance by the amount of Q22,830,030.00, followed by another malicious and absurd process for the alleged application of that product, by the exorbitant amount of Q115,000,000.00”, and the only supplier for the liquid was M. Tarcic Engineering Limited, highlights the Court’s decision.
It was established that immediately after the Q22,830,030.00 was paid, the money had been distributed and transferred to bank accounts of some of the defendants and others involved. They planned to defraud the Guatemalan state for Q130 million, but they failed to do so.
It was proven that former Vice President Roxana Baldetti allowed and endorsed her brother Mario Baldetti, without being a public official, to have de facto power in AMSA, and he took advantage of his sister’s position.
The Court gave probative value to all the evidence submitted by the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity (FECI, for its initials in Spanish) of the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). During the trial, which began on June 11 of this year, 294 means of proof were introduced: 208 documents; material evidence 43; other means of proof 9 were employed. Six experts, 23 witnesses, and five technical witnesses participated in the process.
The criminal structure, led by former Vice President Roxana Baldetti, operated within key state environmental institutions, as well as shell companies created to irregularly control the project to cleanup Lake Amatitlán and thus obtain economic benefits.
Forthis purpose, the criminal organization designed a scheme that allowed it to operate from four areas: political support and high-level operation; institutions where the technical opinions were issued to justify the purchase; the company M. Tarcic Engineering Limited created to get the contract, and the use of a series of companies and individuals to divert funds to third parties.