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Guatemala seeks freeze on Portillo’s Europe accounts

A Guatemalan court has ordered the freezing of assets held by ex-president Alfonso Portillo in France, Switzerland and Luxembourg, the nation’s top prosecutor said Monday.

Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz said Portillo, who was in power from 2000-2004 and is currently being held in the United States for money laundering, had frozen accounts totalling 2.8 million euros in those three countries.

On May 24 Guatemala extradited Portillo to the United States to face charges of laundering $70 million.

Portillo, 61, had been fighting extradition since it was approved by then president Alvaro Colom in 2011.

Following a request from a New York court, he was arrested in January 2010 as he was trying to flee to Belize. Portillo has described the case against him as “political persecution.”

Portillo was indicted by a US grand jury on charges of embezzling tens of millions of dollars of public funds — including $1.5 million intended for Guatemalan school children –.and laundering the money through US and European banks.

In 2011, a Guatemalan court acquitted Portillo and two of his former ministers of conspiring to embezzle $15 million from the defense ministry in 2001.

His acquittal was confirmed by an appeals court in April.

The accounts opened by Portillo in the names of his daughter and late wife are at UBS Luxembourg, Audi Suisse in Switzerland and BBVA in France.