SAN SALVADOR – The private secretary to former Salvadoran President Elias Antonio Saca, Elmer Charlaix, turned himself in on Sunday to police, hours after the ex-president and two members of his Cabinet were arrested for alleged corruption.
EFE was able to confirm that Charlaix voluntarily turned himself in at the Anti-narcotics Division offices, the department of the police tasked with investigating corruption and where Saca – who governed from 2004-2009 – and the other people under arrest are being held.
Supreme Court ethics commission chairman Justice Sidney Blanco said earlier this month that more than $15 million was “moved” under Saca’s name to an account belonging to his former private secretary, Elmer Charlaix, who was indicted in mid-October.
Saca, who is with the opposition National Republican Alliance, or ARENA, was arrested Sunday on corruption charges, an Attorney General’s Office spokesman told EFE, adding that “For the time being, no further details can be provided.”
Former Youth Affairs Secretary Cesar Funes and Communications Secretary Julio Rank, both members of the Saca administration, were also arrested early Sunday on corruption charges.
In Charlaix’s case, the high court ruled that “sufficient evidence of illicit enrichment exists” to warrant his arrest.
In addition, the Supreme Court ordered that the former official’s bank accounts and real estate activities be frozen, along with “a series of (other) actions” against him.
The AG’s Office has not specified the reason for Saca’s arrest, but the high court’s Ethics and Probity Commission revealed last week that his government “allegedly used its security plans as a facade to embezzle some $20 million,” by issuing checks to third parties, including the former president.
The AG’s Office also reported Sunday that Pablo Gomez, Francisco Rodriguez and Jorge Alberto Herrera had been taken into custody for “assorted corruption crimes.”
The Saca administration “supposedly used security plans as a front to misappropriate $20 million,” issuing checks to third parties, including the former president, Blanco said.
Justice Rodolfo Gonzalez, for his part, said Saca alone received $15 million from a budget line used to fund the intelligence service.
In mid-October, the Supreme Court ordered Charlaix to stand trial on charges that he took more than $18.7 million in public funds.
Investigators found that a check for $400,000 was also issued to ARENA.
The 51-year-old Saca, the fourth ARENA president between 1989 and 2009, also faces charges in civil court in a case involving the origins of more than $4 million in personal assets.