Banker arrested as crackdown in Nicaragua spreads

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) – Nicaraguan police have arrested a prominent banker, a sign that the government’s prosecution of opponents is…

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) – Nicaraguan police have arrested a prominent banker, a sign that the government’s prosecution of opponents extends beyond President Daniel Ortega’s political leaders and potential challengers.

Police arrested Banco de Produccion SA executive chairman Luis Rivas Anduray on Tuesday evening and said they were investigating him for inciting foreign interference and seeking military intervention. The charges are similar to those against 13 political opposition leaders arrested in recent weeks.

The police statement says he is also under investigation for “organizing with funding from foreign powers to commit acts of terrorism and destabilization” and for calling and applauding sanctions against the Nicaraguan government and its citizens. Both are crimes under a law passed in December.

Banpro, which is part of the Grupo Promerica consortium, is one of the largest banks in Nicaragua. His clients include the police and the Social Security Institute.

Since the 2018 protests, the bank has blocked the accounts of at least 31 government officials and associates of Ortega who have been sanctioned by the United States. Nicaraguan Congress passed a law in February prohibiting banks from closing such accounts without prior notification.

Rivas Anduray holds a PhD in Economics from Cornell University and has worked for Banpro since 2004. The bank was founded in 1991 and has offices throughout Central America and the Caribbean.

In a statement Wednesday, Banpro chief executive Juan Carlos Arguello said he was confident the situation would be clarified.

Prior to joining Banpro, Rivas Anduray held senior positions in the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance under the government of President Enrique Bolaños, who died on Monday.

In 2011, he went to El Nuevo Diario newspaper to announce that Banpro had bought him. The newspaper closed in 2019 under pressure from the government.

Journalist Letzira Sevilla, then working at the newspaper, said: “Dr. Rivas rarely came to the newspaper, but we all knew his professionalism and humanity. She said Rivas Anduray helped pay her hospital bills last year when she was suffering from COVID-19. “I pray that justice will be done in her case and for all political prisoners. “

Rivas Anduray is the 16th person arrested since the end of May for allegedly committing crimes against the state. Most of the rest were potential candidates in the November 7 presidential elections or leaders of opposition parties.

His arrest came the same day the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States approved a resolution condemning the arrests and demanding their immediate release.

Oscar René Vargas, a government-threatened political analyst who fled to Costa Rica in 2018, said the aim of the arrests was to force the United States to negotiate.

Talks would allow Ortega “to buy time, to give the minimum to remain in power and to obtain the lifting of the sanctions against his family and his entourage”, declared Vargas.

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