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Top Prosecutor Launches Corruption Crackdown in El Salvador

LADB Article ID: 80227
Category/Department: El Salvador
Date: 2017-03-02
By: Benjamin Witte-Lebhar

Since taking over early last year as El Salvador’s attorney general, Douglas Meléndez has led an unprecedented anti-corruption crusade that not only landed his immediate predecessor in jail, but is also targeting two of the country’s past presidents: Elías Antonio Saca (2004-2009) and Mauricio Funes (2009-2014). Funes, a former television journalist and political moderate, has taken up residence in Nicaragua to avoid civil proceedings regarding allegations of illicit enrichment. The case against him was launched last year after an audit by the Sección de Probidad, a special anti-graft unit with El Salvador’s Corte Suprema de Justicia (Supreme Court of Justice, CSJ), discovered more than US$700,000 in unaccounted-for payments, income, and assets.The attorney general’s office (Fiscalía General de la República, FGR) began a criminal investigation as well, Funes’ conservative predecessor, Saca, faces an even more complicated legal scenario following his October arrest on charges of embezzlement, illicit association, and money laundering. The investigation into possible wrongdoing by the former president also began with an audit by the Sección de Probidad. And like Funes, Saca faces civil proceedings. But he’s also being pursued along criminal lines and is being held in a regular prison, albeit in a special section, north of San Salvador.

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