Tegucigalpa (AFP) - Honduran police arrested the fugitive former director of the national social security institute Tuesday on charges of stealing more than $330 million in public money from 2010 until January this year.
Mario Zelaya, who headed national health and pension fund IHSS under former president Porfirio Lobo, was arrested at dawn in Honduras's El Paraiso department after eight months on the run, President Juan Orlando Hernandez told a press conference.
Defense attorney Marcelino Vargas said Zelaya had been captured in neighboring Nicaragua.
Zelaya went on the run in January after a court ordered his arrest on charges of diverting hundreds of millions of dollars in IHSS funds into personal accounts and property.
Speculation on his whereabouts had run rampant in the Honduran media, with some accounts saying he had fled the country and others saying he had been assassinated to hide illicit campaign contributions during the November elections that brought Hernandez to power.
Last week police arrested two other former high-ranking officials on IHSS-related corruption charges, ex-labor minister Carlos Montes, who was captured, and former vice health minister Javier Pastor, who turned himself in.
Both are accused of taking bribes from companies that supplied goods and services to the social security institute.
IHSS financial manager Jose Bertetti was also arrested in January over a fraudulent ambulance purchase scheme.