Toledo accused of receiving US$20 million in bribes

5 February 2017

According to testimony from senior Odebrecht executives gained through plea bargaining, the Brazilian construction company paid former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo US$20 million in bribes to secure contracts to build the Inter-Oceanic highway linking Peru and Brazil. The money was paid through a series of offshore accounts between 2005 and 2008.

For its part, the Peruvian public prosecutor’s office has said that it has identified US$11 million paid by Odebrecht into accounts at Citibank and Barclays in London. The money was paid to an account belonging to Josef Maiman, a close friend of Toledo’s who has already been identified in real estate transactions through which Toledo acquired luxury properties in Lima and elsewhere.

Toledo, interviewed by El Comercio on 3 February in Paris, denied any wrong doing. The prosecutor on the case, Hamilton Castro, was expected to issue an arrest warrant for Toledo imminently. Castro apparently received information on payments to Toledo from Jorge Barata on a visit to Brazil late last month. Barata, who oversaw Odebrecht’s operations in Peru, gave evidence in return for promises of a lighter sentence.

Responding to the accusations against Toledo, President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski tweeted that “Justice has to be equal for all. If someone has committed acts of corruption, they should be punished”. Kuczynski was prime minister at the time the Inter-Oceanic contract was signed.

If the charges against Toledo hold up, he will be by far the most important ‘big fish’ (pez gordo) to be involved in the Odebrecht scandal so far in Peru. However, the investigation into bribes paid for different projects under different governments is ongoing. On 31 January, the vice-minister for communications in the APRA government of Alan García was arrested on his return to Lima from Miami. He is accused of receiving bribes to secure the contract to build the Lima metro.

Toledo was personally present at a meeting of Proinversión in December 2004 when legal problems were ironed out enabling the signing of contract for the construction of Sections 2, 3 and 4 of the Southern Interoceanic Highway. As a consequence of a series of addendums (32 in total) to the original contract, the cost of the highway to the Peruvian government more than doubled from US$900 million to just over US$2 billion.

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