Prosecutors in Peru will order the arrest of former President Alejandro Toledo after discovering millions of dollars in what they say are bribes paid in exchange for steering public contracts.
Corruption prosecutor Hamilton Castro told several newspapers in Peru that he will submit an international arrest warrant for Toledo after tracking millions of dollars paid by Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht to Toledo associate, Josef Maiman.
According to Castro, Odebrecht executives cooperating with Peruvian investigators since reaching a deal with the United States Justice Department revealed that they had paid $20 million in bribes to Toledo via Maiman’s bank account in London. In exchange for the bribe, Toledo’s government allegedly helped Odebrecht win $600 million in contracts to build two sections of the Interoceanic Highway which connects Peru to Brazil. The contracts were later increased to over $1.3 billion.
Prosecutors said they have verified a balance of at least $11 million in Maiman’s account as well as a history of payments to Toledo’s Costa Rica-based consulting firm, Ecoteva, which is already the subject of a money-laundering investigation. Prosecutors believe Toledo used fraudulent contracts to conceal the source of millions of dollars repatriated from Costa Rica to purchase real estate in Lima and Tumbes.
In July prosecutors seized Toledo’s $4 million home in Lima’s Surco district and a beach home in the Punta Sal district of Tumbes. A judge ruled that he could live in his home in La Molina as he stands trial. But prosecutors believe they now have enough evidence to request preventive jailing which, if granted, would require Toledo to stand trial from jail.
Toledo caused a firestorm in local media when he left Peru for the United States in early January, less than a month after Odebrecht reached a deal with American investigators in which the company agreed to cooperate with foreign governments to identify corrupt officials.
“I demand that Alejandro Toledo come back to Peru to fulfill his promise to cooperate with justice. I think it’s the best way to clear his name, if he’s not guilty,” Jose Leon, leader of Toledo’s Possible Peru party, told El Comercio. The party lost its legal status with Peru’s electoral authority in 2016 elections for not garnering 5% of the national vote.
In a bizarre interview with El Comercio, Toledo evaded most questions before insisting he was “absolutely, categorically” innocent.
Brazil’s Carwash corruption scandal has had repercussions throughout the region where Brazilian construction firms paid kickbacks to government officials in exchange for public contracts. Peru had already ordered the arrests of officials in the second government of former President Alan Garcia.
Last month Brazilian newspapers reported that investigators in Peru and Brazil have identified $3 million in bribes Odebrecht paid to former President Ollanta Humala and first lady Nadine Heredia in exchange for steering the $7 billion contract to build the Southern Gas Pipeline in 2014.
After losing a widely criticized election to Peruvian strongman and former President Alberto Fujimori in 2000, Alejandro Toledo led massive protests in downtown Lima which led to the fall of the autocratic regime. He was elected president in a special election in 2001 and continued Fujimori’s market reforms while restoring a balance of powers in government.
“Justice must be equal for all. If someone has committed acts of corruption, he must be punished,” tweeted President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who served as finance minister and Cabinet chief in Toledo’s government.
José León: “Exijo que Alejandro Toledo venga al Perú” (El Comercio)
Los sobrecostos de Odebrecht en Peru (IDL Reporteros)