Arturo Murillo, former government minister, yesterday declared himself “not guilty” of the bribes and money laundering crimes he has been charged with in the US. The jury hearing is expected to take place between seven and 15 days and a penalty will also be imposed.
The information was released by Attorney General Wilfredo Chavez, who said the decision to plead “not guilty” is personal and could also be revoked by his defense and the defendant himself.
Murillo’s remaining accomplices are also expected to be sentenced to prison terms between this month and January.
Sergio Méndez, Luis Berkman, Bryan Berkman and Philip Lichtenfeld have pleaded guilty to the same crimes Murillo is indicted for. “Arturo Murillo had to answer whether he pleaded guilty or not. In consultation with his defense, he decided not to plead guilty, ”he reported at a press conference.
Bolivia attended this Wednesday hearing in person and was represented by its lawyers and the northern country’s chargé d’affaires. “We also have general information that if Mr. Murillo remains in this position, the court hearing will be scheduled for the next seven to 15 days, which is a reasonable time to schedule the jury hearing,” added Chavez.
The former agency, which has been arrested in the United States since May, is charged with money laundering and bribes for brokering a contract for the purchase of tear gas and non-lethal weapons for Bolivia with Bravo Tactical Solutions.
Chavez added that at around 4:00 p.m. Bolivian time on January 18, 2022, the reading of the judgment of the four co-defendants, who previously pleaded guilty, will be announced.
Loss of $ 2.3 million to the country
The Arturo Murillo case dates from late 2019 to early 2020. Murillo, former minister Luis Fernando López and their accomplices paid bribes to buy tear gas through the intermediate company Bravo Tactical Solutions (BTS).
That company paid $ 3.3 million for the gases to Cóndor, Brazil, and later sold that material to the Bolivian state for $ 5.6 million. With this purchase and sale, the country suffered economic damage of US $ 2.3 million.
All of the stolen money was transferred to a bank in the US and then returned to everyone’s personal accounts.