Background

Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina resigned recently and was indicted on charges that he was involved in a scheme in which import tariffs were lowered in return for bribes. Perez denies the allegations but a judge ruled that there is sufficient evidence for a trial, which will begin in December. Former Vice President Roxana Baldetti and more than 30 other officials have been arrested on similar charges, which have sparked outrage and protests across the country.

According to press sources, the “La Linea” scheme featured a hotline that importers could call to secure substantially lower tariff rates in return for kickbacks to customs officials. Perez allegedly received at least $800,000 of the $3.8 million in bribes paid as part of this scheme and now faces charges of customs fraud, racketeering and bribery. The allegations stemmed from an investigation by the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala.

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