Interpol issued a warrant for the arrest of former Ecuadorian President Jamil Mahuad on Tuesday for embezzlement, mishandling of public funds and causing the country’s banking crisis in the late 1990s.
Mahuad became president in 1998 when Ecuador was on the brink of war with neighboring Peru over a territorial dispute. Mahuad and then Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori signed a peace treaty months later, and they were both nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for this act. Things changed on March 9, 1999, when Mahuad declared a state of emergency and two days later, he froze bank accounts across the country, shutting down half of the 42 banks operating in Ecuador. The former president also replaced Ecuador’s sucre currency with the U.S. dollar.
A coup by the military and the Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador—CONAIE) in January 2000 forced Mahuad to flee Ecuador to the United States. He settled in Boston and is now a professor at Harvard University.
The Interpol warrant means that Mahuad may now be detained and extradited to Ecuador to face charges which could see him jailed for between eight and 12 years.
The case against the Mahuad was brought forth by the Ecuadorian government 13 years ago and has been ongoing. In December 2012, Ecuador’s Corte Nacional de Justicia (National Court of Justice) requested that Interpol capture Mahuad, but Interpol denied the claim in January 2013.