South America has been a special part of my life for four decades. I have lived many years in Brasil and Peru. I am married to an incredible lady from Argentina. I want to share South America with you.
Peruvian prosecutors on Saturday raided the house of former president Alejandro Toledo in connection with alleged bribes coming from Odebrecht, the disgraced Brazilian construction company. The move is linked to a sweeping investigation into a corruption scheme that has reverberated throughout Latin America.
The attorney-general’s office took to Twitter to inform the public that a “special team” had searched a house Mr Toledo owns in Lima for more than five hours.
Duberlí Rodríguez, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Peru, said on Saturday that if greater evidence was found linked to the crime, prosecutors would prepare to seek the preventive arrest of Mr Toledo.
The search stemmed from the discovery of $11m allegedly transferred to an associate of Mr Toledo, according to Reuters, which authorities claim is part of $20m in bribes that Odebrecht said it gave an official to secure a contract during his 2001-2006 term.
Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was Mr Toledo’s prime and finance minister, and has denied any wrongdoing. He is subject of a parallel preliminary investigation for a signing off on a 2006 law that removed hurdles to granting road contracts.
“Justice must be the same for everyone. If someone incurred in acts of corruption, it must be sanctioned,” he tweeted on Saturday, adding “corruption never again”. Mr Kuczynski has said Odebrecht should pay some $29m, the same amount it admitted to paying in bribes to win contracts in Peru, to settle a graft case in the Andean nation.
A plea bargain reached by Odebrecht with US, Brazilian, and Swiss prosecutors in December showed how from 2001, the company had distributed $788m in bribes in a dozen countries, including Peru, to secure contracts. The US Department of Justice described the operation as an “unparalleled bribery and bid rigging scheme”.
Peru has, so far, arrested four people in connection with the case. Former deputy communications minister of ex-president Alan García, Jorge Cuba, was detained January 31. He allegedly headed a ring that received $7m to facilitate Odebrecht winning a tender to complete Line 1 of the Lima Metro.
In Peru, Odebrecht has won public work contracts worth more than $10bn. It admitted to paying bribes between 2005 and 2014 to win contracts to build roads, metro lines, pipelines and hydroelectric plants. The kickbacks allegedly stretched over three administrations, including those of Mr Toledo, Mr García and Ollanta Humala.
Mr García is in Madrid and has denied involvement. While still in office, Mr Humala had “emphatically” rejected accusations he received money from Odebrecht for the financing of his 2006 presidential campaign. In January, a judge ordered that Mr Humala would require court authorisation before travelling outside of Peru.
A Datum poll published on Friday found Peruvians think their former presidents would try to avoid justice, with 83 per cent saying Mr Toledo would not stay in Peru, 81 per cent saying the same about Mr Humala, and 78 per cent about Mr García.