The Joe Biden administration is protecting a group of Guatemala’s former prosecutors and judges, currently exiled in the United States and considered by US officials to be anticorruption champions. These individuals are subject to a broad investigation of alleged corruption that could flip the anticorruption reputation on its head.
A group of Guatemala’s former prosecutors and judges, who requested political asylum in the United States due to alleged persecution for fighting corruption in Guatemala, are subject to an extensive corruption investigation. The First Report examined documents from ongoing investigations conducted by the Prosecutor General’s Office into million-dollar private financial accounts. These accounts’ assets and funds have allegedly come from illicit activities.
The former officials occupied key positions in Guatemala’s judiciary until 2021, including the leadership of the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Special Branch against Impunity (FECI). They have ties with secret bank accounts with million-dollar balances. Considering their salaries as Guatemalan justice officials, such huge sums of money would have been unreachable.
According to Guatemalan prosecutors, corporations created in tax havens—to avoid paying taxes in Guatemala—have opened the accounts under investigation.
These accounts have ties to four former Prosecutors—Juan Francisco Sandoval, Thelma Aldana, Andrei González, and Rudy Herrera—and former Judge Erika Aifán. They are all exiled in Washington, D.C., under the protection of the Biden administration and the US State Department.
Ongoing investigations from the Prosecutor General’s Office include numerous cases of misconduct in Guatemala’s judiciary. Although most cases are already publicly known, the recent examinations of financial accounts tied to these former officials have provided fresh information for prosecution.
According to First Report informers (people who are familiar with official investigations), prosecutors are examining the acquisition of half-built luxury properties and questionable activities in Brazil that allegedly attempted to cover Odebrecht’s corruption in Guatemala. They are also looking into a case of alleged money laundering and embezzlement through banks in Guatemala, the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, and the United States.
The five justice officials under investigation have received unrestricted support from US government officials such as Juan González, White House national security advisor for Latin America; former US Ambassador to Guatemala Todd Robinson (2014–2017); and Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ). For them, the defendants have been championing the fight against corruption in Guatemala.
The official investigation, however, reveals an entirely different side of these characters.
Juan Francisco Sandoval, former FECI chief, served as a bridge between the Prosecutor General’s Office and the defunct International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). Current Prosecutor General Consuelo Porras fired him on July 23, 2021. Weeks later, Porras accused Sandoval of obstructing justice and breach of duty.
Sandoval, who was honored by the US State Department for being an “anticorruption champion,” fled to the United States right before a Guatemalan court issued a capture order for him. Sandoval was subject to dozens of accusations concerning irregularities and justice mismanagement during his tenure.
“Removing Juan Francisco Sandoval from the FECI is a lethal blow to the fight against corruption in Guatemala,” tweeted Sires hours after Porras dismissed Sandoval. Three hours later, Robinson retweeted it.
Sandoval accumulated dozens of complaints against his role in FECI, but he still gained Robinson’s support. His endorsement turned Sandoval into an untouchable prosecutor.
According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, US support for Sandoval prevented an in-depth investigation into the complaints against him. Some of these complaints noted the existence of private bank accounts in Guatemala with hundreds of thousands of dollars, amounts that exceeded his salaries as FECI chief.
Former Guatemalan Prosecutor General Thelma Aldana (2014–2018) arrived in the United States early in 2019. Current Prosecutor General Porras has accused her of numerous crimes and issued capture orders against her. Despite this, US authorities have praised her as an “anticorruption champion.” In addition, she received the Right Livelihood Award, which since 1980 has been widely known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize.”
After Aldana left office, suspicions grew regarding her job performance. Local prosecutors started paying attention to cases where she allegedly abused her authority. Investigations took a different path when Aldana’s financial information came to light. According to the latest reports from the Prosecutor General’s Office, she has “an unaccountable wealth” of millions of dollars.
Until now, Robinson and other US officials, who have supported the former Guatemalan prosecutor, have turned a blind eye to the complaints against Aldana. US officials’ response has been the same: it is revenge due to their fight against corruption.
For the prosecutors leading the investigations, the number of complaints against the former officials is so large that they are difficult to ignore. Thirty-three complaints target Aldana, 20 target Aifán, 58 target Sandoval, and nine target González and Herrera, each.
Aifán resigned her position as a judge in March 2022 because she feared incarceration due to the numerous complaints against her. Ironically, the US State Department has considered Aifán an ally in the fight against corruption. In March 2021, she won the “International Woman of Courage Award,” along with 13 women from all around the world. US officials consider them women with extraordinary achievements.
When Aifán received the award, the State Department issued a statement: “Despite the strong opposition she has faced during her tenure, Judge Aifán has become an icon of the fight against corruption, efforts to improve transparency, and actions to improve justice’s independence in Guatemala.”
Nevertheless, plenty of the resolutions Aifán issued when she led the High-Risk Court D are under investigation. For years, Aifán monopolized politically impactful cases in Guatemala, by dragging them to the High-Risk Court D. Aifán’s personal bank accounts are under investigation too.
To illustrate how committed the Biden administration is to these alleged anticorruption champions, State Secretary Antony Blinken has twice sanctioned Prosecutor General Porras. The US State Department sanctioned Porras in September 2021 and May 2022 for allegedly obstructing prosecutions and undermining democracy. Porras succeeded Aldana who, alongside Sandoval, reigned over the judiciary until Porras took office.
The State Department’s support has blocked full examinations of these and other officials, especially since the CICIG’s creation in 2005. The CICIG contributed to the weakening of the Guatemalan judicial system.
The Other Side of the Coin
The five exiled officials—Sandoval, Aldana, Aifán, González, and Herrera—were the starring characters in an April story in the New Yorker. The story praised them as “judges and prosecutors who [had] prosecuted the most powerful people in [Guatemala].” According to the article, “due to their investigations, they were forced to flee to Washington, D.C.”
The story, which Robinson shared on his Twitter account with the hashtag #crimefighters, described the Guatemalan officials’ labor during their tenures. It also shared their daily lives in exile in Washington, D.C.
The New Yorker story received plenty of compliments from US and Guatemalan citizens. However, the article—which caused few critical responses—did not mention the complaints and accusations against these former officials.
Almost immediately after the story’s release, the Prosecutor General’s Office issued a strong statement against each of the former officials. The statement mentioned at length the offenses allegedly committed by the exiled anticorruption “champions.”
The statement reads: “The Prosecutor General’s Office reaffirms that, in compliance with constitutional provisions, it has received multiple complaints against said officials, who are subject to serious accusations from different people.”
Then it lists the crimes that the five former officials have allegedly committed:
“Abuse of authority, breach of duties, embezzlement, influence peddling, disclosure of confidential or sealed information, illicit association, material falsehood, self-concealment, money laundering, violation of the constitutional provisions, passive bribery, office abandonment, prevarication, illegal detentions, failure to report, obstruction of criminal action, obstruction of justice, usurpation of functions, and fraud.”
The aforementioned statement was echoing numerous accusations against the prosecutors in exile. Many of these accusations were presented to the Prosecutor General’s Office while they were in office.
“The truth is that they sent many innocent people to jail in order to show how much power they had, and they obtained economic benefits from those actions,” Russian activist Igor Bitkov said. Bitkov is one of the main complainants. He has documented how he and his family suffered due to unprecedented judicial rulings against him. He attributes the rulings to Aldana, Sandoval, González, Herrera, and Aifán.
How Far Former Prosecutors Went
Former Prosecutor General Aldana has a criminal record as long as her career in Guatemala’s judicial system, which dates back to 1981. The first event that raised suspicions about her trustworthiness occurred in October 2009 when she was a magistrate candidate for the Supreme Court of Justice. Alongside the applications of 19 other candidates, the CICIG—then led by Carlos Castresana—considered her candidacy “not ideal.”
In a letter sent to former Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom, Castresana revealed that the commission had received incriminating information about all 20 candidates. He supported his argument by attaching “files that would have proved the candidates’ poor performances.”
Aldana was the second on the list CICIG vetoed due to alleged ties with corruption cases and criminal organizations. Details of the files are still classified. According to First Report informers, the cases were mostly about influencing legal resolutions in exchange for favors.
Aldana’s luck changed in 2014 when then President Otto Pérez Molina and Vice-President Roxana Baldetti appointed Aldana as prosecutor general, ahead of four other candidates. They chose her despite the incriminating information the CICIG previously shared with them.
According to some political analysts the First Report consulted, Aldana’s selection was a political move designed by Baldetti to protect herself from future accusations. Aldana took office right before the Pérez-Baldetti duo left office in January 2016.
An investigation ordered by former President Jimmy Morales revealed that Aldana and Baldetti had friends in common. Aldana used her contacts as leverage to obtain the necessary votes for her appointment.
The agreement did not turn out as expected for Pérez, Baldetti, and other people who managed to place Aldana in the Prosecutor General’s Office. Shortly after taking office, Aldana launched an investigation against the presidential duo. The investigation found Pérez and Baldetti participated in corruption networks and led to their incarceration.
Then another actor entered the game: Todd Robinson became US ambassador to Guatemala.
Official Investigations against Aldana
In 2014, Aldana started investigating prominent corruption cases. These cases impacted the government and the operability of Guatemala’s judicial system. Robinson’s meddling was decisive, according to former Supreme Court Magistrate Blanca Stalling’s testimony, presented to Congress in October 2019 before the Truth Commission about the CICIG.
This commission, which served as a forum to quickly resolve many accusations against the CICIG and justice officials, presented a 400-page report. The report claimed the UN-backed commission “gave itself powers of the Police and the Prosecutor General’s Office and selectively pursued political actors from specific sectors.”
Stalling testified that, on one occasion, she went to a secret meeting, invited by Aldana—who was a close friend of hers. Robinson, a DEA agent, and someone with the last name Rivas Lara (presumably former prosecutor Francisco Rivas Lara) were gathered together.
Stalling revealed that Aldana and Robinson asked her to collaborate with them from her then position as a magistrate in the Supreme Court’s Crime Chamber for “faster prosecution and influencing resolutions on cases they had an interest in.”
Stalling claimed she denied the proposal because she considered it illegal. In February 2017, the CICIG ordered her arrest due to alleged influence peddling.
Stalling later said in an interview: “I am going through this process because I refused to act against the law and in favor of Aldana, Ambassador Robinson, and Rivas. They propositioned me to disregard due process when I led the Crime Chamber, but I refused. I knew this would put me in a risky position, but I have had documents to back it up.”
According to witnesses and Prosecutor General’s Office documents, Aldana perpetrated irregular—and presumably illegal—activities throughout her tenure. She prosecuted mafias and helped put criminals behind bars, but at the same time she conducted her own irregular activities, according to prosecutors.
A prosecutor—who asked for anonymity and feared reprisals—told the First Report that there are several sealed or classified cases due to the nature of the alleged irregularities. He claims there are at least four cases regarding authority abuse, fraud, and money laundering, among other crimes.
The first one—which ultimately led to the capture order against Aldana—is dubbed the Phantom Plaza. The case addresses the inclusion of former San Carlos University Law School Dean Gustavo Bonilla on the payroll of the Prosecutor General’s Office. Although he never worked there, Aldana signed Bonilla’s hiring to perform phantom operations in the Training Unit.
Recently revealed information shows that Bonilla received salaries from January to December 2015, totaling around $30,000. After the administrative-crimes prosecutor ordered an investigation into the matter, the court led by Judge Víctor Cruz issued a capture order against Aldana on March 19, 2019.
Aldana attributed the accusation to alleged political persecution against her. According to Aldana, that was the way to halt her aspirations to become prosecutor general. In 2018, she ran for the presidential election with the Semilla political movement. The Constitutional Court disqualified her from the electoral race.
The second case is about a building acquisition for the Prosecutor General’s Office with Aldana’s approval. She is accused of authority abuse and fraud.
According to the accusation, in 2017 Aldana authorized the purchase of a five-story building on La Asunción Boulevard, 20 minutes away from the Prosecutor General’s Office headquarters. It cost around $4.5 million. At least half a dozen irregularities were committed in the transaction, according to Prosecutor Marlon Pacheco.
The purchase was not in the annual budget from the Prosecutor General’s Office, as established by law. When the Judicial Department head did not approve the purchase, she was fired. Then the negotiation was conducted between the head of the Prosecutor General’s Administrative Department—who had no authority to do it—and representatives from Invermo Corp. The property, however, did not belong to them but to Bertram S.A.
The parties carried out the purchase with neither due process nor procurement, openly infringing legal norms. After conducting an appraisal, the Prosecutor General’s Office found out that the building was overpriced by $454,000—which accounts for approximately 10 percent of the property’s value.
Aldana authorized William Balz Gallardo to participate in the building purchase. Balz is an Invermo Corp. representative who was under investigation by the FECI and the CICIG due to the case “Power, corruption, and laundering network.” A capture order against Aldana was issued due to this accusation. Rather than challenging the accusations, Aldana tweeted: “it was revenge for the work we have made with CICIG to liberate Guatemala from the mafias.”
The third case against Aldana consists of assets affidavit falsification and tax evasion. Aldana purchased a property from accountant Juan Benjamín Lemus Sagastume on July 7, 2014, only weeks after being appointed prosecutor general.
Aldana declared that she had paid around $78,000. However, the house—located in one of the most luxurious neighborhoods in Guatemala City—cost $295,000, five times the price she had declared. Lemus testified about it before the prosecutor general for the investigation.
According to a prosecutor investigating the case, when Aldana declared a lower price for her property, she presumably paid lower taxes, which means tax evasion. First Report informers said there were at least two other properties that belonged to Aldana, including one she sold in 2021 to a person that lives in Lanham, Maryland, United States. Those properties are also under investigation.
The fourth case, however, is the one that may cause more serious problems for Aldana.
The Fortune under Investigation
The most scandalous case involving Aldana is the fortune under her name in bank accounts from Guatemala, the Cayman Islands, the United States, and Switzerland. According to the investigation that the First Report accessed, Aldana has at least six accounts in Guatemalan banks—Old Zacapa, GYT Continental S.A., CHN Zacapa Agency, Promerica, Bantrab Plaza Guadalupe, and Interbank—with the same sums of money in each. In total, the balances amount to more than $1.5 million.
The investigation has found that Aldana presumably has four accounts in the Cayman Islands with ScotiaBank, Cayman National Bank, and Butterfield Bank. According to the official investigation, she also owns a certificate of deposit (CD), an individual retirement account (IRA), and a tax-free withdrawal retirement account (Roth IRA).
The other account is under the domain of Capital Conservator Group LLC, a corporation registered in the Marshall Islands. According to the incorporation and an arbitration case, the account’s beneficiaries are Aldana and her husband Joaquín López Gutiérrez.
Aldana’s bank accounts in the Cayman Islands have over $2.5 million in total. All hold balances in US dollars.
Capital Conservator Group LLC holds a second account in Swiss bank UBS in New York. Adding up cash, commodities, and bonds, the bank account has around $1.4 million. Aldana and López are the beneficiaries of that account too.
Aldana’s juiciest account, however, is at the Swiss firm UBS Global Assets Management. Its balance is about $4.7 million.
The investigation aims to trace the origins of the money. It also expects to identify whether Aldana used any of these accounts to deposit the money—$250,000—she allegedly received from a Qatar foundation, according to an August 2020 accusation.
In total, according to prosecution reports, Aldana’s fortune surpasses $10 million.
This figure is far away from the prosecutor general’s salary in Guatemala. Current Prosecutor General Porras earns around $7,850 per month, which rounds up to $94,000 per year. If Aldana were to receive the same amount for four years, she would have earned $370,000.
First Report informers have shared that the Guatemalan government has requested banks to provide further details and freeze her assets, if necessary: “The investigation is focused on establishing the origins of these funds, which were never declared and that have no explanation for someone who has worked in Guatemala’s judicial system.”
Prosecutor Sandoval’s Abilities
The case of former Prosecutor Sandoval is more complex than Aldana’s due to its impact outside Guatemala. According to an investigation from the Prosecutor General’s Office, he participated in financial operations through secret bank accounts.
Appointed by Aldana as FECI chief, Sandoval worked from 2015 to 2021 in high-profile cases that earned him global recognition. One of the important cases addressed the customs corruption network involving former presidential duo Pérez–Baldetti.
Sandoval gained a reputation as a firm, fearless prosecutor facing corruption mafias in Guatemala. His firing in 2021 led to a wave of complaints from the international community, especially from US State Department officials.
In a letter sent to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on July 28, Porras explained the reasons for firing Sandoval. One of them was “Sandoval’s refusal to follow orders from superiors to be more efficient with his labor.”
A day after being fired, Sandoval decided to leave Guatemala, by arguing that his life was in danger. His desertion received widespread international coverage. Sandoval first went to El Salvador, where he stayed for less than a week before going to Washington, D.C., where he has lived ever since.
When Sandoval left Guatemala, however, this façade as an outstanding impunity fighter started to fade.
Even before getting fired, Sandoval was subject to a long list of accusations from the Prosecutor General’s Office. A 2020 report by Plaza Pública revealed that, one year before his dismissal, 47 criminal and administrative accusations were already filed against Sandoval.
According to the executive summary from a prosecutor’s investigation that the First Report accessed, Sandoval has committed at least six crimes:
Illicit enrichment. Similar to Aldana’s prosecution, the Prosecutor General’s Office has focused its investigation regarding Sandoval on tracing his financial accounts. According to documents the First Report has reviewed, Sandoval holds two accounts in the United States and at least eight undeclared accounts in Guatemala:
- Fidelity Investments, headquartered in Chicago, holds two of Sandoval’s accounts: a Roth IRA with $225,000 and an investment account with $244,000.
- Sandoval also has two deposit certificates in Scotiabank, Puerto Rico, with $200,000 and $100,000, respectively. Further, he has a checking account with $114,000.
In Guatemala, the investigation has found that Sandoval has two checking accounts at San Miguel Petapa Bank, with around $80,000 in total. In Banrural’s subsidiary in San Miguel Chicaj, Sandoval has a checking and a savings account, with a total balance of $76,000.
In GYT Continental Bank in San Miguel Petapa, the Prosecutor General’s Office identified four accounts belonging to Sandoval. He has a checking and a savings account with around $110,000. He also has two deposit certificates for $50,000 each. Sandoval’s wealth in Guatemala amounts to $1.25 million, a figure that does not match his salary as FECI chief from 2015 to 2021.
Multi-cause cases. Prosecutors have established the coexistence of dispersed investigations for only one judicial cause, which is illegal.
The Odebrecht case. The investigation has revealed that Sandoval signed cooperation agreements with Odebrecht officials that committed corruption in Guatemala but lived in Brazil.
The investigation reads: “The Odebrecht’s case revealed Sandoval used his power to grab functions from other institutions. He requested $17.9 million worth compensation for Odebrecht’s deeds in Guatemala, less than the damage done by Odebrecht to the country.”
Cooperation agreements with unverified information. A report from the investigation reads: “prosecutors have determined that cooperation agreements were signed without verifying the information. The illegality was so strong that, in a Constitutional Court case, the cooperator witnessed the entire debate and all testimonies. By becoming a cooperator, the court granted him with prosecution benefits and exempted him from paying over $12 million.”
Threats and pressure to witnesses in the Parallel Commissions case. The investigation reads, “it was established that, in a phase of case 01073-2016-02, witnesses were threatened and pressured to change their testimonies to include the names of specific people. People who did not collaborate were processed as a consequence.”
Late extradition requests and Interpol warnings. “It has been established that, in certain organizations, extradition requests were done late and emanated from false facts. Interpol’s requirements show that the requests do not answer facts shown in investigations and judicial resolutions.”
Secrets Aifán Has Hidden
Aifán was a controversial judge. She was the highest authority at the High-Risk D Court from 2016 to 2022. This court has processed the highest-profile cases in Guatemala.
Considered a fearless judge, Aifán led some of the most prominent corruption cases in the country. These were Odebrecht, Construction and Corruption; Parallel Commissions (2013 and 2020); Health Ministry Robbery; Legal Assistance: Money Laundering; Pandora; Politics and Money Laundering; among others.
For six years, Aifán developed an apparently flawless career. However, she was subject to plenty of criticism that resulted in over 70 complaints against her.
Her first case when getting to the D Court was Migrations, which included the Russian Bitkov family. The Bitkov family’s story started with political persecution by Vladimir Putin’s regime.
In 2007, when Putin expelled the family, the Bitkovs fled to Turkey and then to Guatemala, where the persecution continued. In Turkey, they approached a Guatemalan firm, called Cutino International, which provided them with Guatemalan IDs. These showed different names to evade Putin’s persecution.
The Bitkovs settled in Guatemala, under the presumption that such documents were legal. In 2015, however, the CICIG accused Igor Bitkov and his family of immigration fraud. The accusation was initiated by Guatemalan representatives of VTB, a Russian bank that became the complainant.
The accusation, according to Bitkov, was part of a Putin-ordered operation to continue the persecution against his family in Guatemala. While Guatemalan legislation dictates an administrative sanction for these cases, the Bitkovs were sent to prison for 19 years. That was an excessive penalty.
“That was when the agony began,” said Bitkov.
For him, Aifán’s participation in the case was excessive and suspicious. Bitkov claimed Aifán acted to damage the family, following CICIG and Russian government orders. Aifán even sent information to Moscow, despite the family presenting a refugee-status application due to political persecution.
The Supreme Court later reversed the D-Court decision. As a consequence, the US Congress terminated $6 million worth of CICIG’s financing. This happened after hearings under the US Helsinki Commission on Human Rights revealed irregular management from Aifán, Aldana, Sandoval, and former CICIG Commissioner Iván Velásquez.
Another Aifán scandal is the exemption of the so-called head of the corrupt pact Gustavo Alejos. Among other crimes, Alejos was accused of being the leader of a corruption network that influenced magistrate elections.
According to Aifán’s 2021 exemption, FECI—which filed the accusation—“did not present basis in evidence that Alejos’s defense solicited.” Alejos’s exemption caused criticism due to the state of the defendant, who was sanctioned by the US Treasury Department, in April 2021, for participating in corrupt activities.
“Alejos—the case’s leader—is exempt from the case, but the rest of the collaborators remain in preventive prison,” lawyer Rolando Alvarado said in an interview with Perspective.
Currently, Aifán has been accused by the Prosecutor General’s Office of corruption in the management of certain case files. Given her position in the D Court back then, complainants have presented three pretrial requests. However, Aifán resigned before these complaints were resolved. She then fled Guatemala in March 2022 due to alleged threats from criminal groups against her.
The Prosecutor General’s Office is keeping a file with cases in reserve, including an investigation of Aifán’s bank accounts in Guatemala. Aifán allegedly owns seven undeclared bank accounts in foreign destinations and four in Guatemala. Her wealth surpasses $2 million.
Her foreign accounts are in the Cayman Islands. The first one is a Roth IRA account at Cayman National Bank in Savannah. That account has around $368,000. Two other accounts are in Butterfield Bank in George Town: a checking account with around $295,000 and a Roth IRA with around $255,000. According to the records, Raúl José Dávila is another beneficiary of these accounts.
The third entity is Canada’s Royal Bank in Grand Harbour, where Aifán has two accounts. Both are Roth IRAs, and their balances add to $500,000.
Aifán has two certificates of deposit for $250,000 each at Merrill Edge, a Bank of America digital platform. Dávila also appears as the second beneficiary from these CDs.
Aifán has four accounts in Guatemala. The first two are in Compartamos Bank in San Miguel Petapa. She has a checking account and a CD, both for around $175,000. Two other checking accounts are in San Miguel Petapa’s Aztec Bank, with balances totaling $60,000.
According to a First Report informer, Aifán has never declared these accounts through sworn statements or to Guatemala’s Treasury Department. The First Report asked Aifán about the accusations against her, but she said the accusations had no grounds.
She also asserted: “The Prosecutor General’s Office is trying to reduce my administrative and penal responsibilities. There have been over 100 complaints against me, but they have been unable to prove any of them. The respective files have demonstrated that the loss of evidence from my cases were shown in the respective files, which upholds my job. My work has only been ethical, responsible, and aligned with the law.”
“Regarding my bank accounts, they have all been declared to the authorities. The Guatemalan state has full knowledge of all my bank accounts, and the amounts of money I have in all of them. The money in those accounts comes from legitimate origins. During my entire judicial career, I have acted with honesty and transparency.”
Two Collaborators: Andrei González, Rudy Manolo Herrera
In Aldana, Sandoval, and Aifán’s maneuvers, two other officials had key roles: Andrei González and Rudy Manolo Herrera.
Former Prosecutor González worked closely with Sandoval. He had cases under his responsibility such as the irregular financing of the National Unity for Hope political party. Sandra Torres was the candidate.
Another case under González’s responsibility was known as Impunity and Fraud, a corruption and influence-peddling network in the Guatemalan Treasury Department. The prosecution aimed to wipe out the negative record of the state-run Iron Company.
In August 2019, González unexpectedly quit due to personal reasons. Two months later, he went to the United States, where he accused Prosecutor General Consuelo Porras of abuse of authority, denial of justice, and obstruction of justice while he was a prosecutor. The accusations mainly focused on the National Unity for Hope case.
Porras sent a statement in response to González’s complaints. She said that González requested to be “promoted to FECI joint prosecutor,” before quitting. Porras denied it, as well as his request for personal security—which included a vehicle, gas, and escorts. The latter was illegal.
In the statement, Porras also said González’s complaint would have been already known by the FECI, where he worked. As a consequence, González’s complaint was classified as inappropriate due to potential conflicts of interest.
Right after González issued such complaints, Porras publicly accused him of three crimes: revealing classified information, secrets, and fabricated evidence. A fourth complaint was related to González’s presumably undeclared financial accounts.
According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, González has two Roth IRA accounts in the Saint Croix Bank in the US Virgin Islands. The account balances amount to $300,000. Three different accounts are in the Commonwealth Bank in the Bahamas. The first is a checking account with $277,000. The second one is a savings account with $311,000. The third is a CD of $200,000.
In Guatemala, González has other accounts. Two are held by Ixil Bank, with balances of $14,553 and $66,115. González has two other accounts in Aztec Bank: a checking account with $8,749 and a savings account with around $30,000. González has undeclared funds of around $130,000, according to the investigation the First Report had access to. González’s wealth adds up to around $1.3 million.
The second collaborator of Aldana, Sandoval, and Aifán is Herrera. He started working at FECI as a prosecutor in 2013. He worked on prominent prosecutions against criminals, including Aifán’s Multi-Cause case. Herrera also participated in the Bitkov immigration case, in which he contributed false testimonies and covered up evidence, according to the Bitkovs’ accusations.
In February 2022, Herrera—alongside three prosecutors—was involved in a case of arbitrary illegality against a person. This is part of the Parallel Commissions 2020 case.
The case, presented by the FECI in 2020, unveiled an influence-peddling network in the appointment of Supreme Court magistrates. Judges, magistrates, lawyers, and civilians were involved in the case.
A Prosecutor General’s Office statement explains: “Through threats, violence, and intimidation, they coerced the complainant into a collaboration agreement. On this occasion, they told him if he did not subscribe to the agreement, he would be sent to preventive prison instead of enjoying the benefits they gave him.”
These are not the only investigations that involve Herrera. According to a Prosecutor General’s Office announcement—issued on May 5, 2022—Herrera is subject to over six ongoing investigations. In addition, he has a capture order due to the case described above.
One of the cases against Herrera has to do with undeclared bank accounts and private funds, similar to those of Aldana, Sandoval, Aifán, and González. According to the ongoing investigation, Herrera has six accounts in Canada and nine in Guatemala.
Herrera has three Roth IRA accounts in Toronto’s HSBC with $421,000, $255,000, and $188,000. The RBC Royal Bank in Toronto also manages two of Herrera’s accounts: a checking account with $189,000 and a Roth IRA account with $414,000.
In the Agro-Commercial Bank in Guatemala, Herrera has a checking account with $38,700, and a CD of around $108,000. In INV Bank, he has a checking account with $28,000 and a savings account with $175,000. In Aztec Bank, Herrera has a checking account with $70,000, and a CD of $150,000. In Banrural, Herrera has three accounts: a checking account with $28,000, a savings account with $90,000, and a CD of $150,000. In total, Herrera’s undeclared funds total over $2.3 million.
Update (9:10 am, June 17, 2022)
The First Report received a State Department statement. It answered some of the questions previously sent to former Ambassador Robinson for this report, including inquiries about complaints on alleged intervention from Robinson in Guatemala’s local affairs. This is the statement’s text:
The United States is committed to combating corruption and impunity, which are undermining Guatemalans’ faith in their democratic institutions.
The corruption in Guatemala has a significant impact on the United States because it contributes to illegal migration and expands the influence of organized crime in the region.
For this reason, the United States joins all Guatemalans in their support for democracy and the rule of law and is against people who undermine these principles.
US actions that promote the rule of law are consistent with our diplomatic practices and our support for the Guatemalan people.
The US government will continue to express its concern for corruption and impunity in Guatemala.
We have expressed our deep concern regarding the prosecution, imprisonment, and harassment of independent anticorruption judges and prosecutors. They have fought against impunity, similar to journalists that report on major corruption in the highest spheres.
The United States sanctioned Porras due to her alleged intervention in important cases. During her tenure, Porras has allegedly blocked and undermined anticorruption investigations in Guatemala to protect her political allies and to obtain illegal favors. Porras’s modus operandi includes ordering prosecutors to ignore major cases due to political considerations and firing prosecutors who are investigating corruption cases.
We have joined a wide variety of international actors to express our concern due to Guatemala’s democratic setback. The European Parliament expressed on April 7 its concern due to the rule-of-law decline in Guatemala. It urged local authorities to defend the rule of law and to investigate impartial investigations about the threats and harassment against justice officials. The UN General Secretary and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued similar statements in February.