Salvadoran ex-president tries to flee amid graft probe
San Salavdor: El Salvador`s ex-president Francisco Flores, who is under investigation over USD 10 million donated by Taiwan, tried to flee the country on a bus, President Mauricio Funes said.
A border agent noticed strange behavior in the vehicle in which Flores was seeking to leave the country for Guatemala yesterday, Funes said.
"At 11:00 am, ex-president Flores tried to leave the country on a bus (at the) La Hachadura crossing and he had gone through immigration... Seeking to flee from justice," he told a press conference.
"We made him come back because he had not reported his departure, in other words he was hiding there; only the driver had reported he was there," the president said, adding Flores was supposed to appear yesterday before lawmakers investigating the donation case.
Funes recently alleged that three checks for USD 1 million, USD 4 million and USD 5 million were issued by the Bank of New York, on behalf of Taiwan, and endorsed by Flores.
The checks were received by a branch of Banco Cuscatlan in Costa Rica and sent to a bank in the Bahamas, through another bank in Miami, Funes said.
Taiwan donated the money to El Salvador in the waning months of Flores` presidency, between 2003 and 2004, said the president.
Flores maintains that he accepted the money but did nothing inappropriate, passing it on through the proper channels.
"If his conscience is clean, if he didn`t do anything with that USD 10 million, then why is (Flores) sneaking out of the country at the Hachadura border crossing?" the president asked.
The president said that Flores should appear before lawmakers investigating the case, or that police would be happy to take him there by force.
Flores has told investigators he did not receive the funds from Taiwan for a government cooperation account; he said he received them on a personal basis from the president of Taiwan.
These contributions were "normal," said Flores, and that Taiwan for years had been giving them to countries that recognized the island diplomatically.
Just 22 countries, most in Central America and the Caribbean, recognize Taiwan diplomatically. China regards the island as a rebel region awaiting reunification with the mainland.
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