HomeNewsBriefCentAm's Latest Social Security Corruption Scandal Hits El Salvador
BRIEF

CentAm's Latest Social Security Corruption Scandal Hits El Salvador

EL SALVADOR / 30 NOV 2015 BY MIKE LASUSA EN

El Salvador's Supreme Court has charged the former director of the country's social security institute with illicit enrichment, highlighting the agency's deep-rooted susceptibility to corruption in Central America's Northern Triangle region.

Leonel Flores Sosa, who served as director of the Salvadoran Social Security Institute (ISSS) from 2011 to 2014, came under investigation for a series of suspicious bank transactions that occurred during his time in office.

According to the Supreme Court, Flores Sosa received some $512,000 in deposits and made withdrawals in excess of $367,000 during his tenure, despite earning a salary of only $194,733. The high court also indicated that he was unable to account for his purchase of a $60,000 Mercedes Benz and a $15,000 BMW Mini Cooper, as well as his ability to finance more than $159,000 in credit card purchases.

Additionally, the court found that Flores Sosa and his wife Dennis Karina Hernandez de Flores had around $105,000 in savings in several undeclared accounts, bringing the total amount of questionable income to more than $600,000.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profiles

The investigation also revealed that some of the suspicious deposits originated from employees of the social security agency, who reportedly received thousands of dollars in cash from Flores Sosa's personal assistant, Mildred Diaz, which they then funneled back into the ex-director's possession.

InSight Crime Analysis

Allegations of high-level corruption within the ISSS come as little surprise, considering authorities in neighboring Guatemala and Honduras have uncovered massive fraud rings within their respective social security agencies in recent years. 

As InSight Crime has previously reported, several factors make Central American social security systems prime targets for corruption. For one, they are huge institutions. The ISSS, for example, has a budget of around $492 million, representing roughly 10 percent of the government's $4.8 billion total expenditures in 2015.

In addition, these agencies issue a large number of contracts, often to companies tied to government officials. Flores Sosa himself pointed this out in March of last year, when he said, "This institution, with much respect, has historically been the petty cash box of various political interests."

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Elites and Organized Crime

But perhaps the most salient reason for the prevalence of corruption is widespread impunity in the region, where even the most serious crimes typically go unpunished. Transparency International's regional director for the Americas, Alejandro Sales, said in a recent interview that limited public access to information about government contracts and a lack of judicial autonomy have contributed to this broader problem.

"Often officials who want to do the right thing are confronted with the bureaucracy of their own institution," Sales said. "It must be recognized that it is not easy to [denounce corruption] in institutions where mafias are already installed."

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BARRIO 18 / 3 OCT 2018

In September, homicides in El Salvador declined to levels that the Central American nation hasn’t seen since a truce was…

EL SALVADOR / 5 APR 2013

El Salvador plans to ask the United States for funding assistance for the country's gang truce, pointing to the need…

ELITES AND CRIME / 19 DEC 2017

The sentence handed down in a US court to nephews of Venezuela’s first lady is anything but lenient, and it…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…