After a parade of at least 30 witnesses -19 of these policemen- and the intervention of two workers from the Ministry of the Interior (Migob), in charge of exposing alleged irregularities of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation (FVBCh) in its financial statements, the Ministry According to sources in the case, the Public has failed to prove that the Foundation’s money came from illicit sources, which is one of the key premises for committing the crime of money laundering.
Those accused for the alleged crime of money laundering and for ideological falsehood, appropriation and improper retention are the former presidential candidate, Cristiana Chamorro Barrios; two former employees of the FVBCh, Marcos Fletes and Walter Gómez; driver Pedro Vasquez. Separately, former deputy Pedro Joaquín Chamorro is accused of the alleged crime of abusive management.
During a marathon hearing, of at least 15 hours – the longest since the trial began on Thursday, March 3 -, the Public Ministry presented this Wednesday an expert in documentscopy, who assured that the signature on a check belonged to Marcos Fletes, Foundation accountant. However, the defenses assured that this does not prove that it is a money laundering action.
“No proof has been brought that says the money is dirty,” they stressed.
Incomplete Migob report
At Wednesday’s hearing, the Prosecutor’s Office presented as a witness Franya Urey Blandón, head of the Directorate of Registration and Control of Associations of the Migob, who acknowledged that he “was unaware” of the “specific reasons” for the accusations against political prisoners.
Urey Blandón presented a report that summarizes in two pages the alleged “inconsistencies” in the Foundation, during the period 2015-2019.
In the brief report —in the possession of CONFIDENTIAL— point out that the Foundation violated the Foreign Agents Regulation Law because it did not register as such, despite being “obliged” because “they receive funds from the United States.” However, the same document states that —based on an “analysis of the financial statements for the 2015-2019 periods”— the FVBCh “did not specify the origin, execution and destination of the funds”, although they indicate that the donations came from the United States. USA and Switzerland.
The United States Agency for International Development (Usaid), one of the Foundation’s donors, assured in May 2021 that they have not found “evidence of laundering” in the FVBCh.
Luis Hernández Mendoza, Migob’s financial analyst, was unable to explain what techniques he used to identify the alleged “irregularities” found in the Foundation’s financial reports.
When the defense questioned him about the application of national regulations necessary to carry out this type of audit, the official “did not know how to respond,” according to the sources of the case.
Prosecutor’s office obvious cessation of operations of the FVBCh
Urey Blandón declared that when the Foundation announced the cessation of its operations, in February 2021 —in order not to submit to the violating Foreign Agents Law—, it “alarmed” them and they decided to review the organization’s documentation. Subsequently, they provided the information to the Public Ministry for investigation because “it seemed strange to them.”
At the time, the former president of the FVBCh and now a politician, Cristiana Chamorro, pointed out that the imposition of registering as a “foreign agent” is practically “renouncing our Nicaraguan citizenship.”
The Law is “another instrument designed to persecute and crush those of us who resist the plan of captivity and submission to which they want to subject us with arbitrariness that exceeds constitutional limits,” the organization said in a statement.
This Thursday is the sixth day of the political trial hearing, in charge of Judge Luden Martín Quiroz, of the Ninth Criminal District Court of Managua, who has already sentenced three political prisoners out of more than thirty sentenced to prison for the alleged crime of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity” in the Directorate of Judicial Assistance (DAJ), El Chipote.
Trial with irregularities from the beginning
The former president of the FVBCh was arrested on June 2 of last year. She was accused of the alleged crimes of abusive management, ideological falsehood in real competition with “money laundering”, after a State report indicated that the Foundation supposedly transferred funds for the strengthening of media between 2017-2020 to people and organizations that they seek “the destabilization of the smooth running of the country’s economic and social development.”
The main point of the accusation is that the FVBCh allegedly received 150 million cordobas from donors between 2015 and 2019, but they had 190 million cordobas in the banking system.
Among the beneficiaries for the alleged destabilization of the Nicaraguan Executive, the Prosecutor’s Office listed 13 independent media outlets, four non-governmental organizations and seven journalists.
Last Friday, nine civilians presented by the Prosecutor’s Office as witnesses did not support the theory of alleged money laundering by the Foundation. On the contrary, they assured that the relationship with the NGO was honest, transparent and correct. This, according to the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) shows that there is no evidence of the commission of a crime, they said.
Meanwhile, the policemen who testified contradicted themselves during interrogations. The testimonies collected by CONFIDENTIAL They indicate that the agents who signed the search reports raised many questions.
The same family members noted that those who spoke before the judge were not the same ones who participated in the acts of “investigation” that served as “evidence” against the accused.
Testimony of 16 policemen reveal fabrication of “evidence” against FVBCh
“The officers said that they had not participated in the proceedings and that they had only signed them, they even went so far as to say that they did not know where the evidence that had been seized in the raids had gone and they could not even say what it was that they supposedly proved. with their statements,” they said.