Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra says the major agreement between state prosecutors and Brazil’s Odebrecht construction company may "shake up" Peru’s political stability but with long-term positive results.
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At a ribbon cutting ceremony in Lima Vizcarra told crowds: "This (investigation) can shake up (Peru’s stability), but is good because it will open the way for future (political) transparency and honesty Peruvians demand."
Brazilian media announced on Monday that Peruvian and Brazilian prosecutors along with Odebrecht reached a joint deal under which Brazilian prosecutors will interrogate 23 former Peruvian politicians and government officials and Odebrecht executives previously working in the country in connection with over 50 cases of illicit contracts and kickbacks with the construction company.
Testimonies will be taken between Jan. 14 and 23 in Curitiba, and a formal accord is set to be signed on Jan. 11 between public lawyers and Odebrecht.
The most sought-after testimony will come from a former Odebrecht exec in Peru, millionaire Jorge Barata who allegedly coordinated with former president Alan Garcia (1985-90, 2006-11) to illegally access construction bids for public works projects throughout the country during Garcia’s two terms in exchange for at minimum US$100,000. Garcia was recently denied political asylum in Uruguay after prosecutors began to question his dealings with Odebrecht while the head of state.
Barata will also be questioned in connection to money laundering between former presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori and Odebrecht, as well as over 20 other ongoing Odebrecht corruption cases in Peru. The far-reaching ‘Lava Jato’ Odebrecht scandal began in 2014 and encompasses nearly all Latin American countries.
"If we want a sustainable … future, we have to eradicate corruption,” said Peru’s head of state on Tuesday. “We have to be strict in punishing those who have committed crimes," Vizcarra said, adding: "In Peru, nobody where’s a crown."
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Odebrecht’s Peru office recently agreed to pay authorities a US$200 million fine in order to continue operating in the country in exchange to providing evidence about officials it bribed in the country.
Those questioned are expected to reveal information regarding bribes between Odebrecht and the former first lady Nadine Heredia Alarcon, former president Alejandro Toledo, and former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
Brazil’s O Globo newspaper commented that testimonies and documents Peruvians are obliged to provide could be “devastating” because of the consequences.
Vizcarra also said on Tuesday that the Executive backs the special team of prosecutors in Peru’s Lava Jato case after reports that some public prosecutors who have been “harassed” from within their own office are saying they’ll leave the investigation.
"The Executive gives full support (to the Lava Jato case team), respects the independence of powers and we ask that prosecutors remain in their positions until their investigations are concluded," said President Martin Vizcarra to local media.
"We have been permanently harassed and (we) have initiated a series of investigations internally in the institution, all related to circumstances or incidents that are linked to this case (the investigation to Keiko Fujimori)," Rafael Vela, lead prosecutor for the state told the media on Tuesday.