Peru’s Attorney General Pedro Chavarry is clinging to his post as the nation’s top public prosecutors demand his resignation. They allege the highest-level attorney in the land is ‘obstructing’ an investigation of Peru’s elected officials for taking in millions from the Odebrecht construction between 2005 and 2015.
Peru Lawyers Accuse Attorney General of 'Obstructing Justice' in Odebrecht Case
Chavarry came out on Twitter Sunday saying he will not step down as attorney general adding: “I will give my life and use all my strength to defend our autonomy and democracy."
This came after state prosecutor Jose Domingo Perez executed a warrant to raid certain offices under Chavarry’s charge in Lima to look for evidence that connects the national attorney general to the money laundering case of Fuerzo Popular legislator, Keiko Fujimori, accused of receiving at least US$1.2 million in campaign funding from Odebrecht for her 2011 presidential run.
Chavarry called the raid “illegal” and said that Perez is "abusing his authority” for conducting the Friday-night raid.
The top legal official also accused Perez of “trampling on the institution of the attorney general” claiming Perez knowingly entered the wrong offices to gather evidence saying he went into other offices not pertaining to prosecutor Juan Duarte Castro. Judge Richard Concepcion who is presiding over Keiko’s case issued the warrant.
The nation’s top attorney had dismissed Perez and his anti-corruption colleague Rafael Vela from their posts on Dec. 31 as lead state investigators into the Odebrecht corruption case that involves several former presidents. Chavarry was forced to reinstate the two last Wednesday after major protests against Chavarry’s decision took place on Jan. 1.
Just prior to their sudden dismissal the two junior prosecutors formally accused Chavarry of “obstructing” their case against Fujimori and Odebrecht in Peru for allegedly paying an estimated US$30 million in bribes in total over the past 20 years, including to Keiko, daughter of Peru’s former authoritarian president Alberto Fujimori, along with the former Peruvian leaders: Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006), Alan Garcia (1985-1990, 2006-2011) and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (2016-2018).
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Members of Peru’s Board of Supreme Prosecutors, who have insisted that Chavarry step aside “for the good of the public,” say that he is waiting to see if President Martin Vizcarra’s bill is passed by Congress declaring a state of emergency in the attorney general’s office which would dissolve the board and removes key people from positions.
Pablo Sanchez Velarde, a member of the six-prosecutor board, told local media, "I think (Chavarry) is waiting for the Executive's proposal to be approved so that we all leave. He wants to drag us away with him," he exclaimed.
When the Supreme Prosecutors asked Chavarry to resign as attorney general on Jan. 5, Velarde says he told them: “I’ll think about,” adding he’d give them a “response in the next hours or days.”
Odebrecht’s Peru office recently agreed to pay authorities a US$200 million fine in order to continue operating in the country in exchange for providing evidence about officials it bribed in the country.
In mid-December, Peruvian and Brazilian prosecutors, announced that they reached a deal with Brazilian prosecutors and Odebrecht executives in Sao Paulo to allow Brazil’s lawyers to interrogate 23 former Peruvian politicians, government officials and Odebrecht executives who previously worked in Peru about 50 allegedly illicit Odebrecht contracts and subsequent kickbacks that took place between 2005 and 2014.
Testimonies were set to be taken between Jan. 14 and 23 in Curitiba, and a formal accord was set to be signed on Jan. 11 between public lawyers and Odebrecht, but Chavarry's dismissing Vela and Perez upset this time table.