HomeNewsBriefGuatemala Ex-President Received Millions in Bribes from Spanish Company

Guatemala Ex-President Received Millions in Bribes from Spanish Company


Guatemala's former president and vice president -- already detained for involvement in another corruption scandal -- have been accused of running a scheme in which they received million-dollar payoffs from a Spanish company.

While in office, ex-president Otto Pérez Molina and ex-vice president Roxana Baldetti created a criminal structure for laundering bribe money received from container port construction company Grup TCB, according to Guatemala's Attorney General's Office, known as the Public Ministry.

The investigation was carried out in collaboration with the country's UN-backed anti-impunity commission, the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG).

According to investigators, Pérez Molina and Baldetti appointed several collaborators to top positions within a state company that manages Guatemala's Quetzal Port, the largest port on Guatemala's Pacific coast. In 2012, these collaborators contacted Spanish company Grup TCB to negotiate a 25-year contract worth $255 million for building and managing a new terminal in Quetzal Port. But in order to secure the contract, Grup TCB had to pay over $25 million in bribes. 

At one point, the Spanish company suggested paying the bribe partly in company stock. However, according to the CICIG, Pérez Molina and Baldetti were insistent on receiving cash payments that had to be paid out before the end of Pérez Molina's term in October 2015, elPeriódico reported

Baldetti's personal secretary, Juan Carlos Monzón, played the role of messenger between the Spanish company and Guatemalan officials, the Public Ministry said. He was also instrumental in paying out bribes of at least five million Quetzales (approximately $646,000 at current exchange rates) to Quetzal Port union leaders, in exchange for their collaboration. Three union leaders have been detained in connection to the investigation.

Grup TCB eventually made two payments, one in late 2013 and another in early 2014, for a total of just over $12 million. Pérez Molina and Baldetti each received about $4.2 million of this cash, the Public Ministry said.

The third payment, due in early 2015, was never completed because by then the Public Ministry and the CICIG had unveiled their investigation into a customs bribery scheme that eventually forced both the president and vice president to resign.  

The Public Ministry issued arrest orders for nine people in connection to the scheme, and named a total of 18 collaborators, including five who are based outside of Guatemala. 

InSight Crime Analysis

This case is illustrative of how Guatemala's government was long run like a mafia state, with lucrative contracts used as bargaining chips for increasing the wealth of elites. This type of wheeling-and-dealing was not limited to Guatemala's executive branch, but has also been seen with the national social security agency and local politics

SEE ALSO:  Guatemala News and Profiles

With the unveiling of this latest investigation, the CICIG and the Public Ministry continue their campaign to expose the depths of corruption in Guatemala. But collecting the evidence needed to build these cases is only the first step -- it remains to be seen how the CICIG's many ongoing probes will play out in court.

Both Baldetti and Pérez Molina are currently being held in preventative detention in Guatemala, charged with running a customs bribery ring known as La Linea. The Grup TCB investigation will only add to their legal woes, alongside the prospect that more of their former accomplices will decide to collaborate with prosecutors. Such was the case with Baldetti's ex-secretary, who played a key role in both the Grup TCB and La Linea schemes. 

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.


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.


Related Content


Guatemala is Central America’s most populous country and its largest economy. But an intransigent elite, an ambitious military and a…


Time appears to be running out for the governor of the US-Mexico border state of Tamaulipas – after lawmakers stripped…


As Mexican drug traffickers continue to operate with impunity in Guatemala’s dense borderland jungles, the Guatemalan military is readying itself…

About InSight Crime


Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…


InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…


InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.


Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…


Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.