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From Prensa Latina, Sept 16, 2008
Guatemalan financial authorities detected several cases of money laundering related to irregular procedures for child adoption by US families, sources revealed on Tuesday in this capital.
The Special Verification Quartermaster Corps (IVE), in charge of investigating suspicious bank transactions, reported that at least $12 million were transferred to the county to pay lawyers and other people related to these procedures.
According to the report, there are around 85 money orders bought by around 50 US agencies, the transference services of which said, for example: "first payment for the child, second payment for the 7-year-old boy in process," and similar others.
The amounts fluctuated between $20,000 and $30,000 and at least 40 Guatemalans were detected among the recipients, 20 of whom were notaries, the IVE said.
According to the local laws, money laundering is committed when sums of money are received as a result of an illegal or irregular action.
Up to late 2007, 4,000 Guatemalan minors were given up to adoption to foreign families, mostly from the United States, arousing criticism from national and international organizations.
Those organizations said many women ere convinced to sell their newborn babies to meet their needs, or babies were just robbed and their identities changed.
To stop this market, the government created the National Adoption Council, a single entity with legal power to authorize giving up a child for adoption.
The Council decided on September 9 to suspend international adoptions for an indefinite period, and give priority to applications by couples of Guatemalan origin that do not have to pay any money for the necessary procedures.