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Salvadoran court orders ex-president to return $4.4 million in stolen funds

FILE PHOTO: El Salvador's former President Elias Antonio Saca talks with his lawyers before his hearing on corruption charges in San Salvador, El Salvador, September 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - A civil court in El Salvador on Tuesday found former President Elias Antonio Saca and his wife Ana Mixco guilty of “illicit enrichment” and ordered them to return $4.4 million to state coffers, authorities said.

Prosecutors had found irregularities in the couple’s wealth declaration and accused both of transferring public money to their personal bank accounts and to those of broadcasting companies they owned during Saca’s presidency, said Gerver Montoya, an attorney from the prosecutor’s office.

Along with the order to return stolen funds, Saca was banned from public office for 10 years.

The ruling adds to a 10-year prison term Saca received in September 2018 after pleading guilty to money laundering and embezzlement of $300 million during his administration from 2004 and 2009.

Reuters could not immediately reach attorneys for the former president and his wife.

“It’s known that past officials and presidents stole,” Attorney General Raul Melara said in a tweet. “We’re working so that they pay for their crimes, and this money is used for the benefit of Salvadorans.”

Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Michael Perry

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