In evidence given to the Peruvian judicial enquiry into the operations of Odebrecht in Peru, Jorge Barata provides fresh insights into how the company went about the business of securing contracts during the government of Ollanta Humala. His version of events was related by a witness present at the meeting in Curitiba who spoke subsequently to the La República newspaper. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this version of events has been challenged by Humala’s lawyer Wilfredo Pedraza.
Assuming that the source is correct and Barata is telling the truth, both Humala and Nadine Heredia, the former first lady, had supper at the house of Marcelo Odebrecht, at which they personally thanked the Brazilian executive for his US$3 million contribution to his campaign war chest in 2011. At this meeting Nadine apparently offered to assist Odebrecht to resolve business problems. One such problem was how to win the bid to build the gas pipeline linking Camisea with markets in southern Peru.
To this end, the sources said that Barata then held meetings in the presidential palace with other senior executives from Odebrecht to help win the project. The main rival was a consortium that included GDF Suez, Sempra, Techint and TGI.
The source quoted Barata saying that Nadine was the key actor. “Humala didn’t understand things very well, unlike Alan García. Nadine Heredia had a better understanding than Humala”.
Nadine apparently complained at one point about Odebrecht’s dealings with the Peruvian construction company, Graña y Montero, as “an act of treason”. José Graña Miró Quesada, the boss of G&M, was also a major shareholder in the El Comercio media group which took a very anti-Humala editorial line. Nadine complained to Dilma Rousseff, then the president of Brazil, that Odebrecht had “passed over to the enemy”.
According to Barata, as quoted by this source, Nadine was instrumental in the dismissal of Jorge Merino, the minister in charge of the project and his replacement by Eleodoro Mayorga in 2014 because Merina had failed to push ahead with bids.
Separately, the sheer scale of Odebrecht’s bribery operations under Alan García was laid bare on 13 December when the company handed over documentary evidence, to the special prosecutor for the case, that there were no less than 723 orders of payment made for bribing public officials in Peru with respect to large-scale construction projects between 2006 and 2010. These included the Transoceanic Highway in the south and the Olmos irrigation scheme in the north of the country.