Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa released emails Friday where the country's former oil minister admits to being involved in a corruption scandal involving the state oil firm, and subsequently asked the president to grant him and his family clemency.
Taking to his Twitter account, Correa published a series of emails and letters from Carlos Pareja Yannuzzelli, the former minister of hydrocarbons, dating back to October of 2016.
“I made a mistake, yes, but not for lack of morality or treason,” Pareja, who fled the country on charges of corruption while working for oil company Petroecuador, says in the letter.
"I ask for clemency for me and my family,” he added, noting that family members were also arrested in connection with the case.
Correa released the emails in advance of a video where Pareja accuses current Vice President Jorge Glas of knowing about the graft and kickbacks involving a major refinery being built by Petroecuador. In the video, which will be published online on the evening of Feb. 3, those interviewing Pareja from Miami subject him to a polygraph test in an attempt to validate his claims against Glas, who is also running for re-election.
President Correa tells Pareja that he needs to return to Ecuador to face justice and deliver all the names of those involved in the corruption scheme.
"Did you receive money or not? If you did, how can you say that it wasn't for lack of morality or treason?" said Correa in a terse email.
Pareja responds that he will never disclose the names of the people that received kickbacks in the country.
"You have made us all look like corrupt. The only thing you can do is come back and tell the truth," added Correa.
The Ecuadorean leader accuses his former minister of having met with Roberto and William Isaias, Ecuadorean bankers and brothers who have been granted refugee status in the United States. Pareja's cousin, Carlos Pareja Cordero, is also wanted by Ecuadorean authorities for his involvement in the Petroecuador corruption scandal, and he was also an attorney for Odebrecht as well as the Isaias brothers.
State-owned oil company Petroecuador is under investigation for corruption as part of the worldwide graft on Brazil's largest construction company Odebrecht. Company officials claimed that it had paid US$33.5 million in bribes between 2007 and 2008, and in one case to an Ecuadorean “intermediary” who acted in the name of the government.
The Miami-based Isaias brothers were found guilty of embezzlement in connection with their roles as the heads of the Filanbanco during Ecuador's banking crisis in the late 1990s.
According to Correa, Pareja and the Isaias brothers are working with Ecuador's opposition parties to sway voters for the upcoming elections.
"They have a whole campaign to try to damage the Government and Jorge Glas, desperate because of the upcoming elections," Correa warned.
In a previous interview with a local network, Pareja had told an Ecuadorean reporter that he couldn’t accuse Vice President Glas of any corruption.