Date proffered for Barata to give evidence

22 January 2018

It seems probable that 27-28 February will be the dates on which Jorge Barata, Odebrecht’s man in Lima and the person responsible for distributing his company’s largesse in return for contracts, will provide more precise information on who was paid how much, when and in what circumstances. Peruvian and Brazilian prosecutors have set this as the tentative date for the hearing. More than one political leader will be attentive to what he has to say.

The condition for Barata spilling more beans in the Lava Jato scandal is that the evidence he reveals will not be used to incriminate him personally.

Among those wondering what he has to say will be Keiko Fujimori. Barata’s boss, Marcelo Odebrecht, has already stated that he authorised Barata to make payments to Keiko’s 2011 election campaign, payments which Keiko denies having received. Kuczynski, too, will be nervous that new evidence will come to light about his ties to Odebrecht. He previously denied any but it subsequently became clear that companies he controlled received payments when he was serving as a minister in Toledo’s government.

Ollanta Humala, too, will be anxious to see if the case against him firms up as a result of Barata’s declarations. He too is accused of receiving campaign contributions which were never declared. Marcelo Odebrecht has said that his firm provided contributions to all the leading candidates in 2011. But unlike Keiko Fujimori, Humala (and his wife Nadine Heredia) are in prison awaiting further judicial investigations.

On 19 January, the appeals court of the National Penal Court ruled that three leading business executives involved in the Odebrecht bribery scandal should be released from custody. They are Fernando Camet (of the construction firm J J Camet), José Castillo (of ICCGSA) and Gonzalo Ferrero Rey (from Graña y Montero). Their detention pending trial had previously been ordered by Judge Concepción Carhuancho, the same judge who ordered Humala’s detention, but who has now been removed from his senior post in the judiciary.

The Lava Jato scandal has further shaken faith in Peru’s political class by showing explicitly the extent of venality at the highest echelons of power and the double standards of those claiming to be fighting corruption. By the same token, it has heightened distrust in both the legislature and judiciary.

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