Toledo behind bars

21 July 2019

Former Peruvian president Toledo (2001-06) was jailed last week, pending further judicial hearings about the extradition request made by the Peruvian authorities last year. The hearing took place on 19 July in northern California. The judge refused Toledo bail, and he is to remain in custody while extradition proceedings take place. He did so in the belief that Toledo was already planning his escape; when arrested a suitcase with US$40,000 in cash was found at his residence. 

Toledo is one of several former presidents accused of corrupt activities in relation to contracts given to Odebrecht and other Brazilian construction companies. However, despite the evidence against him and his wife, Eliane Karp, he has up to now evaded detention in the United States. He previously had a lecturing post at Stanford University.

Toledo has always maintained that he is innocent of the charges against him and that he is the victim of a political stitch-up. However, the testimony provided by both Odebrecht’s man in Lima at the time the alleged corrupt deals took place, Jorge Henrique Simões Barata, and Toledo’s one-time Israeli confidante Josef Maiman suggests otherwise.

According to Barata, Odebrecht paid Toledo US$20m to help secure the contract to build part of the Inter-Oceanic Highway that links Brazil with Peru. Unlike others who used Odebrecht money to pay for political campaigning, the money appears to have been destined for Toledo’s personal use.

Extradition cases usually take a long time to proceed in the United States, and Toledo’s lawyers may seek to appeal any initial judgement against him, including his arrest. So, it may take months, if not years, before there is any chance of his returning to Peru to serve time there.

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