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Ex-Guatemala president pleads guilty to Taiwan bribes

Former Guatemala President Alfonso PortilloThe former president of Guatemala  pleaded guilty in federal court in New York Tuesday to taking $2.5 million in bribes from Taiwan in exchange for continuing to recognize the country diplomatically.

Alfonso Portillo, 62, pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering conspiracy.

"I knew at the time that what I was doing was wrong, and I apologize for my crimes, take responsibility for them, and accept the consequences of my actions," Portillo told the court, according to a report from Reuters.

Portillo was extradited from Guatemala a year ago by the United States. He was president of Guatemala from 2000 to 2004.

The United States indicted Portillo in 2010 after the courts in Guatemala had cleared him of embezzlement charges.

Only 22 countries have full diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which China considers to be a breakaway province.

U.S. District Judge Robert Patterson set Portillo's sentencing for June 23.

Under his plea deal, the DOJ "agreed to stipulate that Portillo faced 46 to 71 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines," Reuters said.


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.