Bolivian ex-minister gets prison in US bribery case

A former Bolivian cabinet minister was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison in Florida Wednesday after pleading guilty to money laundering in a bribery scheme, the US Justice Department said.

Arturo Murillo, 58, received at least $532,000 in bribe payments from a Florida company for helping it win a $5.6 million contract to provide tear gas and other non-lethal equipment to the Bolivian defense ministry.

Murillo was interior minister in the interim right-wing administration of Jeanine Anez, who took over Bolivia's government in 2019 after the ouster of Evo Morales.

He was charged with and pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering on October 20.

Four people helped Murillo launder the bribe money through US banks, including one in Miami where Murillo received $130,000 in cash payments, the Justice Department said.

The four others in the operation pleaded guilty last year and were sentenced in June to up to 42 months in prison.

Murillo faced up to 10 years in prison.