10 de julio de 2020
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Brazilian prosecutors accuse former Paraguayan president of money laundering

Rio de Janeiro, Nov 19 (EFE).- Prosecutors in the Lava Jato (Car Wash) case this Tuesday accused former Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes (2013-2018), who has a prison sentence ordered by the Brazilian justice system hanging over him, of being at the political core of a money laundering gang that operates in both countries.

 File photo of former Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes (2013-2018). EPA-EFE/Andrés Cristaldo/File

File photo of former Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes (2013-2018). EPA-EFE/Andrés Cristaldo/File

Rio de Janeiro, Nov 19 (EFE).- Prosecutors in the Lava Jato (Car Wash) case this Tuesday accused former Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes (2013-2018), who has a prison sentence ordered by the Brazilian justice system hanging over him, of being at the political core of a money laundering gang that operates in both countries.

"Cartes is at the political core" of the Paraguayan branch of an organization also involving "business owners and executives and the Mota family, and which possibly deals in contraband cigars plus drug and arms trafficking," prosecutors in the Lava Jato case, which seeks to root out corruption, said.

A Rio de Janeiro judge decreed preventive prison for Cartes, currently senator for life in Paraguay, under suspicion of aiding Dario Messer, considered the "biggest money changer in Brazil," who was arrested in Sao Paulo last July trying to escape the law.

Judge Marcelo Bretas accepted a plea from the Attorney General's Office and said the arrest of Cartes "is necessary due to the serious risks" he poses for law enforcement, considering the "ongoing seriousness of the crimes under investigation."

He also said that prison for the former president was the "only way to interrupt the money-laundering crimes already proved," and to "definitively eradicate that transnational organization."

Prosecutors of the Lava Jato case said that Cartes never stopped being part of the Brazilian-Paraguayan crime gang while he was president, and now that he is no longer in power, "he has much more freedom to continue financing, with his enormous economic power, and scheming, with his almost equal political power, so the authorities will never catch him."

They also said the investigations indicate that Cartes will have sent $500,000 to Messer, whom he called a "kindred spirit," to escape the law.

The authorities said they have also included Cartes' name on the Interpol list, though the Paraguayan delegation of that institution said it has not yet received an arrest warrant.

The prison sentence against Cartes is part of an operation begun this Tuesday by Brazil's Federal Police and the Attorney General's Office to impose 20 prison sentences related to this corrupt plot presumably headed by Messer.

Also ordered was the detention of entrepreneurs suspected of exchanging currencies in an illegal way and of hiding funds from the authorities.

The investigation identified close to $20 million hidden, of which $17 million were earmarked for a bank in the Bahamas, and the rest for distribution in Paraguay among money changers, businesses, politicians and an attorney.

According to the authorities, Messer headed a sophisticated network of international money laundering that moved more than $1.6 million in accounts in 52 countries and more than 3,000 companies, and was an essential promoter of such crimes as corruption and tax evasion.

The Paraguayan branch of that gang was investigated starting with information extracted from mobile phones, computers and documents seized from Messer when he was arrested in Sao Paulo.

The operation this Tuesday was dubbed "Boss," which is what Messer apparently called Cartes.

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