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Montevideo, July 17th 2024 - 14:16 UTC



Fight against corruption a priority for the US, Nephew tells Peña

Tuesday, March 5th 2024 - 09:19 UTC
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Nephew met with Peña in Asunción Nephew met with Peña in Asunción

US Global Anti-Corruption Coordinator Richard Nephew told Paraguayan President Santiago Peña in Asunción on Monday that Washington would “continue to use a full range of tools to advance US priorities in anti-corruption activities, including strengthening capabilities in criminal justice and oversight of accountability institutions.”

 “Among other things we talked about, we mentioned that the fight against corruption is key to national security, is a foreign policy priority for the United States, and includes our commitment to supporting a free, independent civil society, as well as the press and the private sector,“ Nephew also explained in a post-meeting press conference during which he took no questions. In his appearance before reporters, Nephew was escorted by US Ambassador Marc Ostfield.

Accountability, responsibility, and the reduction of impunity are essential to prevent corruption, the US envoy also insisted while explaining that this issue was essential for Paraguay to expand its economy, while taking care of its democracy.

Nephew's last visit to the Paraguayan capital was on Oct. 27 and 28, 2022, shortly after former President Horacio Cartes and then-sitting Vice-President Hugo Velázquez were labeled as ”significantly corrupt“ by the US. In January 2023, the US Treasury Department imposed financial sanctions on Cartes.

Also Monday a judge in Asunción dismissed the bribery allegations against Velázquez and former Yacyretá legal advisor Juan Carlos Duarte for which they were both prosecuted after an accusation from Ostfield. The magistrate acquiesced to the prosecution's request citing lack of evidence.

Attorney General Emiliano Rolón said the information supplied by the US Embassy against Velázquez had no basis. “A work team with deputies and tax agents was assigned and they came to the conclusion that the only relevant mention of an alleged bribery was not supported by any evidence. The fiscal agent requested the dismissal, the judge exercised opposition, and again, the deputy answered in the same terms as the prosecutor and the judge had no other option than to dismiss the case,” he explained.

Rolón also admitted that the case against Cartes had various angles from which it could be looked at.

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