Ex-girlfriend of Bolivian President Morales gets 10 years in prison for corruption

LA PAZ – Gabriela Zapata, the former girlfriend of Bolivian President Evo Morales, has been sentenced to ten years in jail on corruption charges.

Zapata, a former manager at the Chinese engineering group CAMC, was accused of using her influence with the president to win $560 million in government contracts.

She began dating Morales in 2005, when she was 18 years old. Morales, 57, said the affair ended two years later.

The case exploded into the headlines in February 2016, just as Bolivia headed into a referendum on whether to allow Morales, who is single, to run for a fourth term.

The leftist leader, who has been in power since 2006, went on to lose the vote.

After a thorough investigation by Congress, Morales was found not at fault.

La Paz prosecutor Edwin Blanco said Zapata was guilty of laundering “illicit earnings, which was proven based on the vast deposits in [her] accounts and cash payments that the defendant made to purchase real estate, autos and companies, among other things.”

Four government workers who were her accomplices received lesser sentences.