On December 1, 2023, the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned Luis Miguel Martinez Morales, a former Guatemalan government official, for allegedly engaging in corruption and widespread bribery schemes. According to OFAC, Martinez was the former head of the Centro de Gobierno, a now-defunct quasi-cabinet level agency that Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei was forced to shut down in 2020 due to backlash over Martinez’ rising power in the government. OFAC reported that Martinez colluded with other Guatemalan officials to illegally award government contracts to favored bidders who were outside of the government’s formal procurement system, including companies in which Martinez or his close associates had a financial interest. OFAC also reported that Martinez solicited kickbacks in 2021 related to the Guatemalan government’s purchase of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, which prompted Guatemala’s special anti-corruption agency to investigate him in connection with a controversial payment tied to government’s purchase of 16 million doses of the vaccine.
Martinez was designated by OFAC pursuant to Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Right Accountability Act and targets acts of corruption and perpetrators of serious human rights abuse around the world. As a result of this designation, all property and interests in property of the designee within the United States or within the possession or control of a US person are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions involving the designated persons. In addition, entities owned 50 percent or more by one or more designated persons are also blocked, unless they are exempt or authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC.