Nephew Emphasizes Anti-Corruption Efforts as Priority for the US to Peña

Credits: Prothom Alo English

US Global Anti-Corruption Coordinator Richard Nephew conveyed to Paraguayan President Santiago Peña in Asunción on Monday that Washington remains committed to utilizing a full spectrum of tools to advance US objectives in anti-corruption efforts.

This includes bolstering capabilities in criminal justice and enhancing oversight of accountability institutions. “In our discussions, we underscored that combating corruption is pivotal to national security and a foreign policy priority for the United States.

This commitment extends to fostering a free, independent civil society, as well as supporting the press and private sector,” Nephew emphasized during a post-meeting press briefing where he did not field questions. He was accompanied by US Ambassador Marc Ostfield.

Richard Nephew (Credits: Basel Institute on Governance)

Nephew stressed that accountability, responsibility, and reducing impunity are critical to curbing corruption, noting that addressing this issue is vital for Paraguay’s economic expansion and democratic stability.

This marks Nephew’s second visit to Asunción since October 27-28, 2022, when former President Horacio Cartes and then-Vice President Hugo Velázquez were labeled as “significantly corrupt” by the US. Subsequently, in January 2023, the US Treasury Department imposed financial sanctions on Cartes.

Coinciding with Nephew’s visit, a judge in Asunción dismissed bribery allegations against Velázquez and former Yacyretá legal advisor Juan Carlos Duarte, who had been prosecuted following accusations from Ostfield. The judge granted the prosecution’s request, citing insufficient evidence.

Attorney General Emiliano Rolón confirmed that the information provided by the US Embassy regarding Velázquez lacked substantiation. “After assigning a team of deputies and tax agents to investigate, it was concluded that the only relevant mention of alleged bribery lacked evidentiary support.

The prosecutor sought dismissal, the judge concurred, and thus, the case was dismissed,” Rolón explained. Rolón acknowledged the multifaceted nature of the case against Cartes, indicating various angles from which it could be analyzed.

I'm Richard Rosales, I cover political news and ongoing US elections.