On April 26, 2021, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated one current and one former Guatemalan government official for engaging in corruption in Guatemala pursuant to Executive Order 13818 which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, targeting those who engage in serious human rights abuses and corruption around the world. These sanctions are imposed in coordination with the UK and its new anti-corruption sanctions regime aimed at disrupting access by corrupt actors and their supporters to the international financial system. These OFAC sanctions also reinforce actions taken last year by the US State Department to sanction both officials and their immediate family members due to their participation in significant acts of corruption, pursuant to Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act.
OFAC designated the former Chief of Staff for the Alvaro Colom presidential administration and an elected delegate to the Congress of the Republic of Guatemala, pursuant to EO 13818 for being current or former government officials responsible for or complicit in acts of corruption. Since 2019, when the Government of Guatemala decided not to renew the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), an organization established by the United Nations to work with the Guatemalan Attorney General’s Office to investigate corruption by Guatemalan politicians, both officials have used their influence to tamper with the country’s judicial process. They have attempted to eliminate the group tasked with investigating CICIG cases by exerting influence on the judicial selection process and facilitating payments to congressional representatives, all in an effort to secure a release from prison, have corruption charges dismissed, and avoid future prosecution.
As a result of the designations, all US property is blocked, and any transactions with these persons are generally prohibited. In addition, any entity in the US that is owned fifty percent or more by a sanctioned person is also blocked.