Criminal probe urged against ex-Salvadoran president

Former Salvadoran president Francisco Flores should undergo a criminal investigation for the alleged embezzlement of money donated by Taiwan, a congressional committee recommended Tuesday.

"It is clear that former president Francisco Flores received checks issued directly by Taiwan in his name and therefore formed part of his estate," the commission wrote of Flores, who ruled from 1999 to 2004.

The panel recommended that prosecutors consider whether to open an embezzlement probe against him. The report is non-binding.

The panel said it could not establish exactly how much Flores may have received.

It said it could not determine, despite questioning the former president twice, what happened to $10 million that Taiwan donated from October 2003 to April 2004.

That amount was mentioned in a complaint filed in 2013 by President Mauricio Funes on the basis of suspicions reported by the US Treasury Department.

Nor could lawmakers determine how $15 million that Taiwan donated from September 2002 to December 2003 for development projects was used.

Another $30 million for social projects was also unaccounted for.

On January 7 Flores acknowledged receiving around $20 million from Taiwan that did not go into public coffers. He said he used the money to attend to the aftermath of two earthquakes and fight drug trafficking and street gangs.

Flores testified again on January 29 but missed a summons two days later and since then his whereabouts are unknown.

His bank accounts and real estate he owns have been seized.

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