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Salvadoran ex-president turns himself in

September 5, 2014

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — A former Salvadoran president turned himself in to authorities on Friday to face charges of embezzlement and illicit enrichment related to a donation by the government of Taiwan.

Francisco Flores is accused of embezzling $5.3 million. He is also charged with mismanaging $10 million that was donated by Taiwan’s government during his presidency from 1999-2004.

A further charge of disobedience accuses Flores of failing to show up for a meeting with a congressional commission investigating what happened to the money Taiwan donated.

Flores had left the country, leading Salvadoran officials to seek help from Interpol to locate him. Flores turned himself in to a judicial center in the capital Friday morning.

He has said he received the money personally from Taiwan and handed it over to the intended state projects, but he has offered no proof of the handover.

Salvadoran officials have said the investigation began after prosecutors received information last year about suspicious operations detected by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Flores is a member of the conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance, or ARENA, which held the Salvadoran presidency for 20 years until President Mauricio Funes of the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front was elected in 2009. Funes’ party remains in power after the election of Salvador Sanchez Ceren earlier this year.

Flores, who was campaign director for ARENA candidate Norman Quijano, said the charges were politically motivated as they came during a very tight presidential race.

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