Bolivia to seek extradition of ex-officials arrested in US on corruption charges

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La Paz [Bolivia], May 27 (ANI/Sputnik): The Bolivian government will seek the extradition from the US of former cabinet officials suspected of corruption, the Interior Minister of Bolivia, Eduardo del Castillo, said during a press conference.

Ex-Interior Minister of Bolivia Arturo Murillo and former senior government employee Sergio Mendez were arrested last week in the US together with Americans Luis Berkman, Bryan Berkman, and Philip Lichtenfeld on money laundering charges related to bribes paid to the Bolivian Defense Ministry.

"We are requesting extradition and sending the corresponding notes so that these gentlemen are accountable to the people of Bolivia," del Castillo said on Wednesday.

He showed photographs allegedly depicting Murillo's ties with Mendez during the press conference. In addition, del Castillio said that the former Minister of Defense, Fernando Lopez, was also involved in this case. He described the ex-officials as a "mafia clan" of the former Bolivian President, Jeanine Anez, who in March of this year was arrested and charged with criminal offenses related to massacres that took place during the first days of her presidency,

Bolivia's Ministry of Justice announced that it will ask the prosecutor's office to investigate the "ties between the repressive and corrupt apparatus" organized by former Interior Minister Arturo Murillo and former Defense Minister Luis Fernando Lopez.

Between November 2019 and April 2020, the three Americans are believed to have paid $602,000 in bribes to the Bolivian government. Most of the money went to Murillo and Mendez, the Justice Department of Bolivia said. Berkman and Lichtenfeld are suspected of laundering payments to the Bolivians through bank accounts in Florida and Bolivia, and arranging cash payments of $582,000 to Murillo and Mendez in exchange for business favors from the Bolivian Ministry of Defense, including a $5.6 million contract to supply the ministry with tear gas and other non-lethal equipment.

According to the Justice Department, the five above mentioned individuals are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. (ANI/Sputnik)