Arturo Murillo, former Bolivian Government Minister who was the
of President Jeanine Áñez, has been sentenced this Wednesday by a US court to 70 months in prison for conspiracy to launder bribes that he received in exchange for helping a company corruptly. American to win a lucrative contract with the Bolivian government, as reported by the Department of Justice.
Arturo Murillo Prijic, 58, was arrested in Miami (Florida) in May 2021 along with his former assistant Sergio Méndez Mendizábal and three American businessmen.
All were accused of setting up a bribery and money laundering scheme to take advantage of an importation of tear gas made by Bolivia while Murillo was in office.
Finally, the former minister pleaded guilty on October 20, 2022 to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The maximum sentence to which he was exposed was 10 years in prison.
According to indictment documentation, Murillo received at least $532,000 in bribe payments from a Florida-based company in exchange for helping that company win an approximately $5.6 million contract in 2019 to provide tear gas and other non-lethal equipment to the Bolivian Ministry of Defense.
Murillo and his accomplices laundered the proceeds through the US financial system, including bank accounts in Miami.
Murillo received approximately $130,000 in cash bribe payments at a relative's home in Miami.
Partners in crime
Murillo's accomplices (Sergio Méndez Mendizábal, Luis Berkman, Bryan Berkman and Philip Lichtenfeld) previously pleaded guilty to their role in the same scheme and were sentenced in June 2022. The American businessmen were the owners of Bravo Tactical Solutions, a company based in Florida that acted as an intermediary between the Bolivian State and the Brazilian supplier Cóndor.
Murillo became the main minister of Jeanine Áñez due to his friendship with the former president.
Both were senators from the hardest wing of the opposition when Evo Morales was overthrown and the MAS fell.
Along with Fernando López, Minister of Defense, who signed the gas purchase contract, they were the strong men of the interim government that took over the country with Áñez at the helm between November 2019 and November 2020. Both led the repression of the protests that exploded against the arrival of the president to power, which resulted in more than 30 deaths.
Murillo was the main person responsible for the judicial and police persecution against the leaders of the Movement for Socialism (MAS), the party of Evo Morales.
Last June, a court sentenced Áñez to 10 years in prison for the crimes of "resolutions contrary to the Constitution" and "failure to comply with duties", in one of the various processes that the Bolivian justice follows the 55-year-old policy, who has been in prison since 2021. The prosecution considered Áñez's actions after the resignation of Evo Morales in 2019 and his subsequent proclamation as president a "coup d'état".
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