(CNN Spanish) – The US federal authorities arrested Sergio Rodrigo Méndez, who was the chief of staff of Bolivian Government Minister Arturo Murillo, during the interim presidency of Jeanine Áñez.
Prosecutors say Méndez, detained May 21 in Naples, Florida, received $ 582,000 in bribes to favor a state-based company to win a $ 5,649,137 million contract and supply tear gas and non-equipment. lethal to the government, according to court documents accessed by CNN on Tuesday.
The former official is accused of conspiring to commit money laundering in events that would have developed between November 2019 and April 2020.
Along with Méndez, who served as an official in the interim government of Bolivia between 2019 and 2020, three US citizens are also charged with the same crime.
The document also mentions two co-conspirators, identified as Bolivian citizens and explains that one was a “high official in the Ministry of Government” and the other, an official of the Ministry of Defense.
Until this Wednesday it is unknown if Méndez is still detained and how he declares himself before the accusations. No defense attorney appears in the court records consulted by CNN. The Justice Department has not yet responded to the request for information sent by CNN this Wednesday.
In Bolivia, the Ministry of Justice and Institutional Transparency said this Tuesday in a statement that it will request the Public Ministry to expand the investigation into the case and that it will focus on the alleged participation of “former Minister of Government, now a fugitive from justice, Arturo Murillo Prijic and the former Defense Minister, Luis Fernando López Julio, also evaded out of the country.
The Government reported in January that audits to the Ministry of Government detected overpricing and “acts of corruption” in the acquisition of inputs. Murillo and López were involved.
The Prosecutor’s Office reported that the former ministers claim to have evidence to “be able to support that the process or acquisition would have met the parameters, requirements, that it needed,” according to local media.
Until this Wednesday CNN has not been able to contact them and they had not made a public statement on social networks.
“This state portfolio will use all the resources that the law grants to promote criminal proceedings for this and other cases of corruption,” the statement from the Ministry of Justice details.