On Wednesday, July 5, 2023, a Salvadoran court sentenced former President Mauricio Funes Wednesday to six years in prison for tax evasion; it is the second time a Salvadoran court has sentenced the ex-president in absentia.
Prosecutors had asked for an eight-year sentence against Funes, who is now a Nicaraguan citizen and lives in Nicaragua. It is unlikely that the former president will be extradited to El Salvador; the Nicaraguan government does not allow the extradition of its citizens.
The Salvadoran Attorney General Office Prosecutors argued that in 2014, Funes filed to declare about $85,000 in taxes; it was Funes’ last year in office. The court also rules that Funes must pay $200,000 in fines and interest.
“The former president evaded taxes with cash deposits, credit cards, purchase of vehicles, weapons, and maintenance services for them.”
“Funes made expenditures for which he could not justify their legal origin, among them, the donation of 80 firearms from which he obtained an economic benefit that he did not declare to the Finance Ministry.”
Attorney General of the Republic of El Salvador.
The former president was not present during the trial. The Salvadoran legislature changed its laws last year to allow trials in absentia. Funes has argued that this is a political trial and that there is no evidence against him.
An unfair conviction without evidence. The FGR did not present any proof that the benefits allegedly received by the gang members have been authorized by the Presidency. There is no doubt that the Specialized Investigating Court obeys the right.”
July’s sentence is the second against Funes in less than two months; in late May, another tribunal sentenced the ex-president to 14 years in prison for negotiating with the country’s powerful street gangs (MS13 & Barrio 18) during his administration.
Mauricio Funes was the first president of the FMLN political party, and it is the second of the last four former Salvadoran presidents to be sentenced to prison for criminal activity during their administrations.
Former President Elias Antonio Saca, of the right wing political party ARENA, was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to redirecting more than $300 million in state funds. Tony Saca was Funes’ predecessor, governing from 2004 to 2009.