SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – El Salvador's president has asked the attorney general to investigate a $10 million donation that Taiwan made 10 years ago to the Salvadoran government during the administration of then-President Francisco Flores.
President Mauricio Funes told reporters on Tuesday the complaint is based on suspicious operations detected by the U.S. Treasury Department, information received by prosecutors in September. He said he had a copy of the information but would not say how he received it.
The attorney general's office, which is independent, confirmed the investigation but said it could not provide details.
The U.S. report indicates Flores received checks totaling $10 million from a Taiwanese government account between 2003 and 2004, Funes said. The donation was intended for a Salvadoran government agency registering land for poor farmers, but Funes said the money never reached the agency.
Flores, who was president in 1999-2004, could not be reached for comment, but he denied any wrongdoing in a local newspaper.
Flores is a member of the conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance, or ARENA for its initials in Spanish, which held the Salvadoran presidency for 20 years until Funes was elected in 2009 from the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front. Funes' party was formed by rebels fighting the government during the country's civil war, though he did not fight in the war.
With a presidential election coming in February, ARENA is calling the investigation a political persecution. Flores is campaign director for ARENA's presidential candidate, Norman Quijano.
The attorney general is also investigating nine people from Flores' administration for embezzlement.