Honduran leader acknowledges campaign funds tied to scandal

Jun 3, 2015, 5:36 PM

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — Honduras’ president acknowledged Wednesday that his election campaign received financing from businesspeople linked to a social security embezzlement and graft scandal that has sparked large protests, but denied any personal involvement.

President Juan Orlando Hernandez said his National Party informed him that the funds involved 10 checks totaling about $150,000 in donations during his race for the Central American nation’s top office two years ago.

He said the businesspeople who gave the checks to his party were to blame and urged that the funds be returned as soon as possible.

“The investigations must continue no matter who may fall,” Hernandez said in a televised interview.

Investigators allege that a network led by the then-director of the Social Security Institute fraudulently misspent millions of dollars on goods and services that were marked up more than 100 percent, with kickbacks paid by businesses that benefited. At least part of the money purportedly ended up in the hands of the National Party.

On Sunday, the prosecutor heading the case, Roberto Ramirez Aldana, fled the country after receiving death threats that authorities considered credible.

Thousands of people who organized through social media marched in cities around the country over the weekend to demonstrate against the scandal, with some calling for Hernandez to resign.

The president, whose four-year term began in January 2014, waged an expensive campaign to narrowly defeat Xiomara Castro, the wife of former President Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in a 2009 coup backed by the National Party and the military.

Hernandez said he has no intention of leaving office. He denied his party is responsible for the scandal, but notably mentioned his vice president and former National Party chief, Ricardo Alvarez.

“I do not know at the moment if he has given a statement. Everyone must do so, and the court must issue its ruling,” Hernandez said.

The former social security chief was captured after fleeing to Nicaragua and has since been imprisoned along with two former vice ministers of the Health and Labor ministries. They and the 18-member board of directors of the Social Security Institute are under investigation. All are members of the National Party.

Protesters plan to march Friday to local offices of the United Nations to demand the creation of an international commission to investigate crime and impunity, similar to a body already operating in neighboring Guatemala.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

World News

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gives his regularly scheduled morning press conferenc...
Associated Press

Mexican president says Tesla to build plant in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s president announced Tuesday that electric car company Tesla has committed to building a major plant in the industrial hub of Monterrey in northern Mexico. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the promise came in phone calls he had Friday and Monday with Tesla head Elon Musk. It would be Tesla’s […]
28 days ago
President Joe Biden speaks with children after delivering a speech at the Royal Castle Arcades on F...
Associated Press

Day after Ukraine visit, President Biden in Poland to affirm Western resolve

President Joe Biden, in Poland, said the Russian invasion of Ukraine has hardened Western resolve to defend democracy around the globe.
1 month ago
People search a collapsed building following an earthquake in Azmarin town, Idlib province, norther...
Associated Press

Death toll soars after powerful earthquake rocks Turkey and Syria

A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked wide swaths of Turkey and neighboring Syria on Monday, killing and injuring thousands of people.
2 months ago
FILE - A fuel trucks drives along a highway in Frankfurt, Germany, Jan. 27, 2023. European Union go...
Associated Press

Europe bans Russian diesel, other oil products over Ukraine

The new sanctions create uncertainty about prices as the 27-nation European Union finds new supplies of diesel from the U.S., Middle East and India.
2 months ago
(Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for BoF VOICES)...
Associated Press

Vivienne Westwood, influential fashion maverick, dies at 81

Vivienne Westwood, an influential fashion maverick who played a key role in the punk movement, died Thursday at 81.
3 months ago
FILE - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during his first Cabinet meeting flanked by his ...
Associated Press

Rishi Sunak: UK’s ex-Treasury chief gets his shot at PM job

LONDON (AP) — Rishi Sunak ran for Britain’s top job and lost. Then he got another shot — and the chance to say “I told you so.” The former U.K. Treasury chief was runner-up to Liz Truss in the contest to replace the scandal-plagued Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and prime minister. But Truss […]
5 months ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...
Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona

5 common causes for chronic neck pain

Neck pain can debilitate one’s daily routine, yet 80% of people experience it in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it annually.
(Photo by Michael Matthey/picture alliance via Getty Images)...
Cox Communications

Valley Boys & Girls Club uses esports to help kids make healthy choices

KTAR’s Community Spotlight focuses on the Boys & Girls Club of the Valley and the work to incorporate esports into children's lives.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
Honduran leader acknowledges campaign funds tied to scandal