Guatemala prosecutors raid Millicom offices in graft probe

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GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Guatemala’s attorney general and a United Nations-backed commission against impunity in Guatemala searched the offices of Millicom International Cellular’s local unit on Thursday as part of a corruption investigation.

The raid comes four months after Ivan Velasquez, head of the commission, known as CICIG, said in July it would investigate Tigo, the Guatemalan affiliate of emerging markets mobile and media group Millicom, over alleged illegal campaign financing and corruption.

Tigo declined to comment on the raid.

Guatemalan police arrested 17 people in July on suspicion of involvement in a corruption racket allegedly directed by the country’s former communications minister, Alejandro Sinibaldi, who has been on the run since June 2016.

During the probe, investigators found evidence of payments from Telecomunicaciones de Guatemala S.A. (Telgua), a subsidiary of billionaire Carlos Slim’s America Movil, in Sinibaldi’s account. CICIG said that the payments were made to secure the company favorable treatment in a dispute with Tigo.

America Movil said at the time it would audit the unit.

In October 2015, Millicom said it had reported to U.S. and Swedish authorities “potential improper payments” on behalf of its joint-venture in Guatemala, sending its shares down.

It was not immediately clear if this was related to the current investigation.

Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Writing by Christine Murray; Editing by Dan Grebler