A Guatemalan court on Wednesday sentenced former President Otto Perez to 16 years in prison, finding him guilty of leading a massive customs fraud scheme while in office.
Judge Irma Valdes said as she read out the sentence that Perez, who was forced to resign in 2015, was found guilty of racketeering and fraud targeting the customs system.
Perez was sentenced to eight years on each count as well as his former vice president Roxana Baldetti.
A United Nations-backed anti-corruption body has revealed several scandals in Guatemala before it was shut down in 2019 by then-President Jimmy Morales after it began investigating him.
One of its key successes was uncovering a multimillion-dollar scheme to cheat Guatemala’s customs duty system, which ultimately led to Perez’s resignation.
Those involved in the scheme – known as “La Linea” (The Line) – received bribes of some 3.5 million dollars according to investigators, who estimate that Guatemala was defrauded out of almost 10 million dollars in tax revenue.
After the sentence was handed down to the 72 year old, Perez, told reporters that he feels frustrated, disappointed and he would appeal the ruling.
Sixteen other people involved in the scam were convicted during the sentencing and 11 others were acquitted.