El Salvador seizes properties in case against ex-president

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Apr 25 2019 08:08 AM

Handout picture released by Nicaragua's presidency showing Salvador's former president Mauricio Funes offering an interview to the official TV channel after Nicaragua granted him political asylum, in Managua on September 8, 2016. Nicaragua has granted political asylum to Funes, who faces corruption accusations at home, officials said Tuesday. Jairo Cajina, Presidencia Nicaragua, Agence France-Presse

SAN SALVADOR - Prosecutors in El Salvador on Wednesday seized 61 properties linked to a massive corruption case against exiled former president Mauricio Funes, accused of embezzling $351 million from state coffers.

State prosecutors said they seized real estate worth over $24 million, including shops, offices, luxury homes and a ranch.

"The properties are passing provisionally under the control of the state," the attorney general's office said in a statement.

Nicaragua granted Funes and his family asylum in 2016, and this month refused a Salvadoran Supreme Court request to extradite the former president.

Funes -- president of the Central American country from 2009 until 2014 -- had argued that he was the victim of political persecution.

The real estate seized on Wednesday was held in the name of relatives, friends and former employees of the former president, including his girlfriend Ada Mitchell Guzman and business magnate Miguel Menendez.

Prosecutors seized 24 other properties last year.

Funes brushed aside the move in a Twitter message Wednesday, saying the properties belonged to Menendez's companies and "are not mine and they are not linked to me." 

Attorney General Douglas Melendez said last year Funes was responsible for "outrageous acts of corruption, where public funds were extracted to the order approximately of $351 million."

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