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Miércoles, 08 Febrero 2017 08:00

Corruption scandal ensnares leaders of Peru and Colombia

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A corruption scandal in Latin America wound its way through the political establishments of two countries on Tuesday as Peru’s attorney general issued an arrest warrant for a former president and Colombian prosecutors said their president’s campaign might have received questionable donations.

Peruvian prosecutors accused the former president, Alejandro Toledo, of accepting $20 million in bribes from the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht in exchange for infrastructure contracts, including the rights to build a highway connecting Peru to Brazil.

The accusations could put Mr. Toledo behind bars, a twist for a man who rose to power by leading protests that toppled the government of his predecessor, Alberto K. Fujimori, who is now in prison.

Attorney General Pablo Sánchez “will request the precautionary imprisonment” of Mr. Toledo, said Hamilton Castro, the prosecutor leading the inquiry.

Odebrecht is the focus of a widening international corruption scandal that has also embarrassed members of the administration of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a former president of Brazil. Last year, Marcelo Odebrecht, the company’s former chief executive, was sentenced to 19 years in prison on charges of corruption and money laundering.

According to the United States Justice Department, Odebrecht operated a department dedicated solely to bribing government officials around the world.

In Colombia, prosecutors said Tuesday that President Juan Manuel Santos’s re-election campaign in 2014 might have received about $1 million from Odebrecht, according to The Associated Press. The country’s top prosecutor, Nelson Martinez, said the donations had come through a third party working on behalf of the company, The A.P. reported. Mr. Santos did not comment.

The charges against Mr. Toledo in Peru appeared to be imminent. If they are approved by a judge, Mr. Toledo, 70, will be ordered to stand trial and put under house arrest, but he will not be held in prison because he is older than 65.

Prosecutors urged Mr. Toledo, believed to be in Paris, to surrender to the authorities in Peru.

He has previously denied wrongdoing. “Say when, how and where and in what bank they’ve given me $20 million,” he said in a weekend radio interview.

According to prosecutors, $11 million has been tracked to offshore accounts owned by Josef Maiman, a close friend and associate of Mr. Toledo.


New York Times | Andrea Azarate

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