Thu, Jan 09, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Former Salvadorean president denies pocketing three checks from Taiwan

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with AFP

Former Salvadorean president Francisco Flores, right, answers questions before a congressional panel in San Salvador on Tuesday as part of a special commission investigation into the disappearance of US$10 million donated by Taiwan to El Salvador when he was in office.

Photo: AFP

Former Salvadorean president Francisco Flores on Tuesday admitted to having received checks worth millions of dollars from Taiwan, but denied that the funds were for his personal use.

“I handed in those checks [from Taiwan] for their appropriate use at all times,” Flores told a Salvadorean congressional panel.

He was president from 1999 to 2004.

Salvadorean President Mauricio Funes last month suggested to reporters that missing funds might have been skimmed or misused and said prosecutors would call Flores in for questioning.

Funes recently said that three checks — US$1 million, US$4 million and US$5 million — were issued by the Bank of New York on behalf of Taiwan and endorsed by Flores.

The checks were sent to a branch of Banco Cuscatlan in Costa Rica and sent on to a bank in the Bahamas, through another bank in Miami, Funes said.

He said the money had been donated to El Salvador by Taiwan between 2003 and 2004.

On Tuesday, Flores firmly rejected Funes charges that he had put the money in his private accounts.

“I would like to say that I have never deposited a check from Taiwan’s government in any account; that is key for me, to make clear that I have never deposited a check from Taiwan’s government in any account,” he said.

To protest what it said were delays in getting information from Taiwan about the donations, El Salvador recalled its ambassador to Taipei on Tuesday.

Saying the case had entered El Salvador’s judicial process, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday declined to comment on the allegations that Flores had received checks while in office.

It said all foreign aid programs were conducted properly and in accordance with its three guiding principles — seeking just cause, following legal procedures and effectively implementing the programs.

Nations requesting aid are required to submit a plan, which is reviewed by the government before a decision is made, the ministry said.

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