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Paraguay vice president to resign after being put on US corruption list

Paraguay Vice President Hugo Velázquez Moreno who was included on a U.S. corruption list for his alleged involvement in offering bribes to a public official has said he will resign next week. 

U.S. Ambassador Marc Ostfield, said Secretary of State Antony Blinken “received credible information” that showed how “at the request of Vice President Velázquez, Duarte, his close personal and professional partner, offered a bribe of more than $1 million to a public official.”

This offering of a bribe was “consistent with an apparent pattern of corrupt activity” and in this case it was carried out to “obstruct an investigation that threatened the vice president and his financial interests,” Ostfield said.

As a result, Velázquez, Duarte and their immediate family members will no longer be allowed to enter the United States.

Velazquez has said he is “completely and totally” in the dark about the allegations detailed by Ostfield, and has said he will resign in order to “go out like a common citizen to defend what I think is an injustice”.

Duarte, Velazquez’s associate, is also legal counsel for the entity that operates the Yacyreta Dam, jointly owned by Paraguay and neighbouring Argentina.

“Duarte’s act of corruption abused and exploited his powerful and privileged public position within the Yacyreta Bi-National Entity, risking public confidence in one of Paraguay’s most vital economic assets,” the US Department of State said.

The designation comes mere weeks after a former president of Paraguay, Horacio Manuel Cartes, was also included on a U.S. corruption list for his “involvement in significant corruption.” Cartes served as president of Paraguay between August 2013 and August 2018.

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