Anti-corruption investigations gather speed

4 December 2017

The latest declarations by Marcelo Odebrecht have set in motion a chain reaction, with the judicial investigations entering ever more political-sensitive terrain. As indicated by Odebrecht, most of the information about what happened in Peru is held by the consortium’s director in Peru, Jorge Barata. Initially Barata had had a collaboration agreement with the judiciary in Peru, but this was suspended when one of his declarations was taken to implicate him legally, a move which is against the whole concept of legal collaboration.

On 29 November, Judge Richard Concepción Carhuancho excluded Barata from the investigation for complicity and collusion in the case of the Inter-oceanic Highway, thus lifting the obstacles to Barata presenting evidence. One last hurdle, however, remains: there is a second judicial process against him on charges of money laundering with reference to the funds he provided for the election campaign for Ollanta Humala in 2011. A decision on this will be taken in some two weeks by Judge Germán Juárez Atoche.

Given the possibility that Barata will talk, the Fujimoristas have amended slightly their version of events as regards the 2011 presidential campaign. Keiko Fujimori has repeatedly declared that not only did she not receive funds from Odebrecht, but that those funds were not even offered. On 1 December, Ursula Letona (one of the most prominent Fujimorista legislators) declared in a radio programme that 2 million dollars were in fact offered to fund Keiko in 2011. Letona then said that she had not declared that she knew about the 2 million, but that she was only explaining the modus operandi as she saw it.

In any case, she will now be asked to give evidence to the official judicial investigation. Some analysts see this as a tactical shift in view of what Barata is likely to say.

Another key development in this case is that of the public prosecutor’s petition for a preventive jail sentence for five Peruvian businessmen linked to Odebrecht. The most important of these is undoubtedly José Graña Miro Quesada, the ex-president of the Graña y Montero construction company and one of the biggest stockholders in the El Comercio media group. As we went to press, a verdict on this was imminent. The lawyers of those accused have denied that the Peruvian partners were involved in the payment of bribes to the Toledo government over the Inter-oceanic Highway.

Further information on how the webs of corruption operate has also become evident with the recent fall of Samuel and Carlos Campusano. Although these brothers are still at large, their computers have been seized and the files on them show the way bribes were paid to several ministries to ensure that large projects advanced smoothly through the bureaucratic loops. The documents show the brothers’ involvement in the project to build a ring road around the city of Cuzco in 2014 with 55 million soles (some US$17 million) being made available to the regional president, Jorge Acurio Tito. He already stands accused of receiving 3 million soles in bribes from Odebrecht.

The Campusano brothers are also involved in a current project to build to a coastal rail link to the north and south of Lima at a cost of 27 million soles. The paper trail shows how their contacts in the Ministries of Economy (MEF) and Transport (MTC) were lubricated with payments to help these projects advance. The investigation continues.

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