Peru’s President to face impeachment proceedings
Peruvian lawmakers decided to move forward with proceedings to impeach President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski amid allegations of bribery in connection to one of the largest corruption scandals in Latin America.
On Friday, lawmakers voted 93 to 17 in a motion to initiate the process of impeachment against Kuczynski.
The President is expected to defend himself to lawmakers next Thursday.
The vote comes a day after President Kuczynski said he would not resign amid the “false” allegations that accuse him of receiving more than $4 million from the Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht.
“I am here to show my face. I do not run, nor do I hide or have any motive to do so. I am here because you deserve an explanation and I have an obligation to give you that,” Kuczynski said on a televised address Thursday.
He said he would ask the attorney general’s office to lift his banking secrecy and allow the public to review his finances.
Kuczynski is the latest political figure in Latin America who has been linked to the Odebrecht scandal.
Ecuador’s suspended Vice President Jorge Glas, was sentenced Wednesday to six years in prison for receiving $13.5 million in bribes from Odebrecht.
Based in Brazil, Odebrecht is Latin America’s largest construction firm. It doled out nearly $800 million in bribes to individuals between 2001 and 2016. Some bribes filtered through the United States.
Most of its bribes were paid to get contracts from governments to build roads, bridges, dams and highways.
Odebrecht officials shipped cash across the globe — from one shell bank account to the next — en route to politicians’ pockets in a dozen countries, including Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Peru and Mozambique.
Bribes sometimes went through as many as four shell bank accounts before arriving at the final destination, authorities said.
The first signs of bribery popped up three years ago in a Brazilian investigation dubbed “Operation Car Wash,” which led to the arrest of an executive at Petrobras, Brazil’s government-run oil company.
Several former presidents and lawmakers in Peru and other Latin American countries have been accused of taking part in the scandal.
Peru’s former President Ollanta Humala and his wife are in prison while authorities investigate their involvement in the Odebrecht bribe.
Police in Peru raided the home of former President Alejandro Toledo in February for allegedly accepting an Odebrecht bribe. Toledo denied the charges via Twitter but has gone missing, is thought to be in the US, and could face jail time.
Kuczynski served as finance and prime minister during Toledo’s presidency.
Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva faces potential prison time for allegedly accepting a payment from Odebrecht that went toward the family’s vacation home.
His successor, Brazil’s first female President Dilma Rousseff, was impeached last year for separate charges, though the massive corruption scandal loomed over her ousting.
In March, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos admitted his re-election campaign in 2014 accepted a donation from Odebrecht. Santos said he had no knowledge of its origin and called for an investigation. Odebrecht received public works contracts from the Colombian government.