Former Salvadoran president Cristiani denies having approved illegal use of funds

The politician did not deny nor affirm that during his administration there have been hidden payments, behind the back of the Treasury.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The former president of El Salvador, Alfredo Cristiani (1989-1994), denied this Wednesday, before a congressional committee, that during his administration he authorized the illegal use of state funds.

With a large pro-government majority, the Legislative Assembly formed a special commission to carry out a non-criminal investigation into the alleged delivery of secret payments to government officials since 1989.

Read also: Check out our coverage on El Salvador

“In my administration, I never authorized nor did I ever receive anything illicit. All these monies were used within the framework of the law in a licit manner,” Cristiani repeatedly said to the legislators of the pro-government New Ideas (NI).

Cristiani came to power under the banner of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA, right-wing), now in opposition, and succeeded the Christian Democrat José Napoleón Duarte in the Executive (Photo internet reproduction)

In the interrogation, which lasted almost three hours, the deputies asked about the Presidency’s use of reserved and secret funds.

Cristiani pointed out that the law obliges him not to reveal in detail how these resources were used. Still, by way of example, he pointed out that a part was destined to manage the negotiations for the signing of the Peace Agreements of 1992, which put an end to a 12-year civil war.

Cristiani came to power under the banner of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA, right-wing), now in opposition, and succeeded the Christian Democrat José Napoleón Duarte in the Executive.

The former president denounced during his appearance that among the pro-government deputies, there was “an anticipated criterion” against him.

“If the committee or any of you consider that you have proof of what he has expressed, please refer him to the corresponding instances to be able to elucidate it there”, Cristiani, who is also a businessman, emphasized.

The politician did not deny or affirm that there had been hidden payments during his administration and with his back to the Treasury.

Former president Elías Antonio Saca (2004-2009), who is in prison for the embezzlement of more than 300 million dollars in state funds, is expected to appear before this committee on Wednesday.

This special committee was proposed by the president of the Legislative Assembly, Ernesto Castro, who refused to vote on the recommendation of an opposition deputy that it also investigate officials of the current government.

Congressman René Portillo Cuadra proposed that the special group also investigate the alleged “ad honórem” positions of the current Executive of Nayib Bukele, whose holders are allegedly receiving payments.

According to a journalistic investigation by the digital media El Faro, during the presidency of Mauricio Funes (2009-2014), several million dollars in bonuses that were not declared to the Treasury by officials were allegedly handed over.

Among the former officials named in El Faro’s investigation as having received bonuses is former president Salvador Sánchez Cerén (2014-2019), who was vice president and minister of education during Funes’ administration.

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