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LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) - Bolivian President Evo Morales said a US businessman's decision to flee the South American nation was tantamount to admitting to the money laundering crimes he was being investigated for.

Morales, in his first remarks since Jacob Ostreicher mysteriously departed Bolivia last week, didn't say whether he'd seek the New York businessman's extradition or retaliate against the United States for any role it may have played in his flight.

"From the moment he fled he's a confessed delinquent because why would anyone escape if they didn't commit a crime?" Morales told reporters on Monday.

Ostreicher hasn't surfaced since he left Bolivia with actor Sean Penn's support.

He was under house arrest when he fled as part of a three-year money laundering probe into a rice-growing venture he managed.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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