By Ismael Lopez
MANAGUA (Reuters) – Nicaragua announced on Thursday a money laundering investigation against presidential hopeful Cristiana Chamorro, who seeks to challenge longtime President Daniel Ortega in the national elections in November.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that “clear evidence of money laundering was obtained” from a review of the 2015-2019 financial statements of a foundation Chamorro headed until February.
Government opponents blasted the probe as “persecution” by Ortega, who will seek a fourth term in November.
Chamorro is the daughter of former President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, whose election in 1990 ended Ortega’s first 11-year run as president. She is the vice president of Nicaragua’s largest newspaper, La Prensa, and her bid is supported by a network of businessmen aiming to end Ortega’s second 14-year stint in office.
“It seems to me that it is a macabre accusation, part of the monstrosity that this regime mounts to prevent citizens from working for Nicaragua and ultimately to prevent us from voting freely in November,” Chamorro told journalists outside the Interior Ministry.
Also on Thursday, police raided the offices of Chamorro’s brother, Carlos Fernando Chamorro, one of the country’s most influential and critical journalists, and detained one of his cameramen for hours.
The police did not respond to a request for comment.
The foundation, founded by Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, was dissolved in February, after two laws took effect restricting the operations of non-governmental organizations.
(Reporting by Ismael Lopez; Editing by Leslie Adler)