El Salvador's ex-president Francisco Flores admits payments from Taiwan
Francisco Flores, El Salvador's former president, has admitted to a congressional panel that he received cheques worth millions of US dollars from Taiwan but denied the funds were for his personal use.
"I handed in those cheques [from Taiwan] for their appropriate use at all times," Flores, who was president from 1999 to 2004, said on Tuesday.
President Mauricio Funes last month suggested to reporters that the missing funds might have been skimmed or misused, and said prosecutors would call Flores in for questioning.
Funes recently charged that three cheques, for US$1 million, US$4 million and US$5 million, were issued by the Bank of New York, on behalf of Taiwan, and endorsed by Francisco Flores.
The cheques were received by a branch of Banco Cuscatlan in Costa Rica and sent to a bank in the Bahamas, through another bank in Miami, Funes said.
Funes said Taiwan donated the money to El Salvador in the waning months of Flores' presidency, between 2003 and 2004. But Flores rejected the president's charge that he had deposited the funds in his private accounts.
"I would like to say that I have never deposited a cheque from Taiwan's government in any account; that is key for me, to make clear that I have never deposited a cheque from Taiwan's government in any account," he said.
Later on Tuesday, El Salvador recalled its ambassador from Taiwan for consultations, in protest of what it called delays by Taipei in answering requests for information about the donations.