Saturday, December 23, 2017

Peru in the middle of a Political Chitstorm - Update

Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski will remain in office after Congress fell short of the votes needed for his impeachment.

Kuczynski is the latest Latin American leader to be engulfed in a wave of corruption investigations stemming from the largest bribery scandal in modern history. For impeachment to pass, 87 of the 130 congressional leaders needed to vote in favor, but only 79 voted for Kuczynski's removal.
Odebrecht continued paying advisory fees to the firms, Westfield Capital and First Capital, until 2012, well after Kuczynski left public office and before his presidential campaign in 2016. In total, Odebrecht paid Kuczynski's firms $4.8 million in advisory fees from 2004 and 2012.

Kuczynski has acknowledged his firms accepted the payments but says he did nothing illegal. Odebrecht also says its payments to Kuczynski weren't illegal. In December 2016, the US Justice Department hit Odebrecht with $3.5 billion record fine for dolling out bribes to officials across Latin America and beyond.
In the seaside capital of Lima, the tales of graft are multiplying like the potholes. An unfinished highway to the airport left a trail of indictments instead. There was the light rail line that prosecutors say was built with help from $8m in bribes. The Brazilian company at the center of it, Odebrecht, has seen government officials jailed in Ecuador and Brazil and dozens of others are under investigation in Venezuela and Colombia.

The biggest fish of them all is Peru President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. Peru’s congress is set to begin impeachment proceedings against him on charges that he improperly received $782,000 from Odebrecht.

The latest wave of corruption may be a turning point.

Alejandro Toledo
For many years, most Latin Americans accepted corruption as inevitable. Now, politicians are on the run — some literally. Alejandro Toledo, Peru’s president in the early 2000s, remains at large after being indicted for accepting $20m from Odebrecht. Another former Peruvian president, Ollanta Humala and his wife, are in jail awaiting trial. In Ecuador, a former vice-president was sentenced to six years in jail.
Ollanta Humala
The charges against Kuczynski have been aggressively promoted by Keiko Fujimori, a right-wing politician who lost to him in 2016. Fujimori was under investigation for corruption charges until her party tried to remove the attorney general. Ms. Fujimori’s father, Alberto Fujimori, is currently serving a 25-year jail sentence for corruption and human rights abuses.

The projects in Peru are only the tip of the iceberg for Odebrecht, which admitted last year to bribes of around $800m from Mexico to Angola. Construction of pricey infrastructure projects resulted in exorbitant bills to their pliant officials.