Odebrecht witnesses spill more beans on Peruvian bribes

24 February 2019

It has been a week of new revelations about Odebrecht’s operations in Peru over many years. The scale of the scandal widened as new information emerged on the Peruvian politicians and officials bribed in order to secure contracts and on the often circuitous routes by which they were paid. Those who took money include aspirants to public office at all levels of government, national, regional and municipal.

As soon as the plea-bargaining agreement was finally signed with the disgraced Brazilian company on February 15, news began to emerge as to how different people had been paid off. Although the agreement still needs to be validated by the Peruvian judiciary, the witnesses have started to speak in good faith as there is every expectation the agreement will soon become official. Rafael Vela and José Domingo Pérez, the two Peruvian prosecutors leading the case, travelled back to Lima this week to accelerate official approval as congresswoman Yeni Vilcatoma sought to put in place new legal obstacles.

The first news to emerge was that twice ex-president Alan García Perez had been paid 100,000 dollars by the so called ‘Caja 2’, established to distribute illegal payments. Fernando Grillo declared he had supervised the payment through his lawyer, although it was not his usual role. Grillo was in charge of a section of the firm that looked for business opportunities, and it was he who brought money into the system to bribe officials. He declared that in García’s case he had used an extra secure system. He made it clear that the money had not come from the Brazilian industrialists association (as Garcia has made out), and that the payment was made after the event using backdated documentation. He said that the process by which García had been paid involved an elaborate simulation.

News has continued to emerge on a daily basis, and it is expected that not many politicians will emerge unscathed. More information on the payments made during the Toledo and García administrations for the building of the Inter-oceanic highway surfaced. Odebrecht officials declared they paid 45 million dollars in bribes, and only 20 million of this was paid during the Toledo administration. Garcia will need to be explain where the other 25 million went.

Raymundo Trinidade Serra, who was in charge of international relations at Odebrecht, has confirmed that the payments made to political campaigns included 500,000 dollars to Lourdes Flores and a further 1 million in cash to Nadine Heredia, the wife of former president Ollanta Humala. He affirmed he attended a meeting with Heredia, alongside Odebrecht’s Jorge Barata, where they arrived with a suitcase full of cash and left with it empty. Crucially, he has said that the one contract for which they had not paid bribes was the Southern Gas Pipeline on which construction began during the Humala administration.

Several members of Congress were also been mentioned, some not previously named as receiving campaign money. Others held meetings with Odebrecht representatives. The journalist Aldo Mariátegui was cited as having been present in these meetings in which business opportunities and political developments in Peru were discussed. Details also emerged as to payments to a number of regional governors. For further detail see here

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    The Peru Support Group exists to promote social inclusion, sustainable development and the observance of human rights in Peru. To that end the PSG highlights shortcomings in observance of established norms, whether international or local in nature, in its research, advocacy and publications. In so doing, it underscores the relationships that exist within the political system, how institutions work, and the effectiveness of policies that aim to reduce poverty and inequality within the context of sustainable development.

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