Guatemala Arrests Ex-President and His Finance Minister in Corruption Case

Prosecutors said Tuesday that $35 million in government money had been paid to a consortium of private bus companies in charge of the system, known as the Transurbano, in a deal approved by Mr. Colom, Mr. Fuentes Knight and other ministers without proper legal oversight. Almost a third of the money was spent on equipment that was never used, prosecutors said, and it was unclear how the rest was spent.

Rafael Espada, who was Mr. Colom’s vice president, told a local radio station that he had warned the president that the bus project lacked sufficient oversight. “Several of those arrested today have done good things for their country, but anyone who by action or omission has exceeded the law should be responsible for their actions,” said Mr. Espada, who was not among those implicated.


Juan Alberto Fuentes Knight, a former Guatemalan finance minister and the chairman of Oxfam International, was also arrested Tuesday in Guatemala City.

Edwin Bercian/European Pressphoto Agency

The arrest of Mr. Fuentes Knight creates a new problem for Oxfam, which has been thrown into turmoil by evidence that some of its aid workers doing earthquake recovery work in Haiti in 2011 had hired prostitutes there. The country director at the time had worked in Chad in 2006, when similar evidence surfaced and no action was taken. Oxfam’s deputy chief executive resigned Monday.

Oxfam International’s executive director, Winnie Byanyima, said that Mr. Fuentes Knight had informed the charity that he had “cooperated fully with the investigation in the confidence he did not knowingly transgress rules or procedures.”

Mr. Fuentes Knight said before Tuesday’s hearing that he had warned against continuing government payments to the bus companies, citing “anomalies.”

In the decade since the Guatemalan government invited the United Nations-backed anti-corruption panel to…

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