Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes Responds to Ortega’s Accusations

Leopoldo Brenes. Photo: EFE

The Church’s accounts are in order, declared the Nicaraguan Cardinal, in the face of Ortega’s police accusations of money laundering.

By 100% Noticias

HAVANA TIMES – Cardinal Leooldo Brenes, head of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, spoke briefly with the independent internet news site Despacho 505 regarding the criminal accusation the Ortega Police have formulated against the religious institution he represents.

Brenes clarified that he knew nothing about the background of this accusation, since he, himself, found out about it from the news bulletins. He confirmed he’d been notified that the bank accounts of a large number of Catholic dioceses had been suspended, but stated that he had no information whatsoever about the supposed bags of money the Police claim to have found in the churches. He also knew none of the details of the alleged money laundering charge he’ll be called on to account for.

“They [the police] told me about the suspension of the accounts, but I don’t know if they then reported something else to the Presidency. [I only know about] the parish accounts, and that’s what we’re looking at,” Brenes expressed to the Despacho 505 news site. The Ortega Police had previously issued a statement that the bank intervention is part of a “money laundering” investigation.

The Catholic official explained that they’re still going through the contents of the police report, alleging that the Church Dioceses operated as a money laundering network. Police declared they had found, “hundreds of thousands of dollars, hidden in bags located in the installations belonging to the country’s Dioceses.”

“We’re just now seeing the news, and that’s the first news of this we have received. Later on, we’ll see [how we respond],” Brenes answered, when asked about the serious accusation. He reported that in the coming hours the bishops were going to analyze the accusations. Brenes firmly maintained that the Church bank accounts are in complete order.

“We’re analyzing it. Later, we bishops are going to [meet]… The people there have their account records, details of how the different work was carried out. When they call us, we’re ready to inform them,” Brenes declared.

The police report claims that people found guilty of treason to the homeland are implicated in the illicit operations, which have involved “illegal withdrawal of resources from bank accounts that had been ordered frozen by the Law, and other illicit acts that are still being investigated, as part of a money laundering network that has been discovered in the Dioceses of different departments.”

The Church will continue its work

According to Cardinal Brenes, all the accounts belonging to the Catholic Church in Nicaragua are now frozen, as confirmed by the country’s bishops.

In the case of the parishes themselves, Brenes said they would continue working normally. “We continue working, because the work of the church is to evangelize,” Brenes affirmed.

Some religious figures consulted by our news team commented under guarantees of anonymity that what most concerns them at the moment is the situation of the parochial schools around the country, since these need to pay their teachers and other employees.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times