PANAMA CITY (AP) - Former president Ernesto Perez Balladares was
put under house arrest Thursday while authorities investigate
accusations that he laundered money.
Perez, who was in office from 1994 to 1999, is suspected of
accepting an unspecified amount of money from a casino called Lucky
During his term, the government granted the casino an operating
Organized crime prosecutor Jose Ayu said he issued the order to
ensure Perez does not leave the country.
The former president has refused to comment on the case, but his
Democratic Revolutionary Party calls the accusations politically
The 63-year-old leader was voted into office in 1994, in what is
considered the Central American nation's first democratic election
after following a U.S. invasion to topple strongman Manuel Noriega
Opponents accuse Perez of living lavishly from the proceeds of
illegal dealings during his time in office.
Perez, who owns several luxury homes, a plane, a yacht and
luxury cars, says he earned his wealth legally.
It is the first time a former president has been placed under
arrest in Panama, where allegations of wrongdoing against
politicians rarely gain traction.