Guatemala’s public finances watchdog, the CGC, has opened an investigation into a US$53,000 payment President Jimmy Morales received from the Army as “extraordinary bonuses of responsibility.”
Although a spokesperson for the Defense Ministry claimed that the bribe was legal, several former presidents declared that they never received any similar payment during their time in office.
“A commission was put in charge of auditing (the payment) and determining the circumstances in which it was done,” said CGC head Carlos Mencos.
The day before, local media Nomada leaked further information on a US$6,000 payment, allegedly made in March in addition to the president’s monthly salary.
Defense Minister Colonel Oscar Perez told the journal that eight monthly payments have been made in checks, for a total amount of US$53,300, corresponding to “the high responsibility of his position.”
Other military officers seem to have benefited from such payments, including the current Defense Minister Williams Mansilla, according to the journal, which did not mention the amount.
The revelations come as the Guatemalan Congress voted Monday to uphold President Jimmy Morales’ presidential immunity after he was accused of hiding his election campaign fund sources. Social organizations have attacked the decision as a vote in favor of fraud.
Large demonstrations demanding Morales’ resignation have taken place in recent weeks, with anger growing after Morales’ attempt to quash a series of investigations by the Cicig as well as remove the U.N. anti-corruption body’s chief, Ivan Velasquez.