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U.S. bars Honduran ex-president Lobo over alleged corruption

by Reuters
Tuesday, 20 July 2021 12:59 GMT

(Adds Blinken comments, background)

WASHINGTON, July 20 (Reuters) - The United States has blocked former Honduran President Porfirio Lobo Sosa and his immediate family from any U.S. travel over allegations that he accepted bribes from drug traffickers in exchange for political favors, the U.S. State Department said on Tuesday.

The designations under U.S. law, "due to their involvement in significant corruption," also apply to former Lady Rosa Elena Bonilla, who the department alleged had misused "public funds for her personal benefit," as well as to their children, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

"While their corrupt acts undermined the stability of Honduras' democratic institutions, former President Lobo has not yet been convicted and Rosa Lobo has been released from prison awaiting a retrial," Blinken said, adding: "These designations reaffirm U.S. commitment to combating the corruption and disregard for the rule of law that hinders progress in Honduras."

Lobo is being investigated on suspicion of involvement in laundering illegal drug money as part of a wider probe into his 2010-2014 administration, an international anti-corruption mission said in 2019.

His wife has also been accused of misusing the equivalent of $779,000 in funds from international donations and public coffers meant for social programs during his term and had been sentenced to prison before a judge in 2020 ordered a new trial.

Their son, Fabio Lobo, was sentenced in 2017 to 24 years in prison after pleading guilty in 2016 to a U.S. drug charge.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Steve Orlofsky)

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