Ecuador impeaches state ex-comptroller
The Ecuadoran Congress has impeached a former state comptroller living in the United States for his ties to scandal-plagued Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, in the latest action as part of a sprawling bribery probe. Odebrecht, the largest construction company in Latin America, agreed in December to pay a record $3.5 billion settlement over revelations it paid massive bribes to win juicy contracts in 12 countries.
A dozen people have been detained in connection with the probe in Ecuador, including former electricity minister Alecksey Mosquera and an uncle of the vice president. Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly Sunday in favor of censoring-or removing from position-Carlos Polit, in a symbolic move against the former state comptroller who had already resigned on June 20 and moved to Miami citing health concerns.
The National Assembly also voted, with 132 votes in favor and one abstention, to send the results of the impeachment trial to the 12 countries with an interest in the Odebrecht case, since Polit also has a related open tax investigation against him in Ecuador. In his defense, which he sent in writing and was read out over a two-hour period, Polit claimed he had “no political responsibility” for the charges, saying lawmakers were punishing him based on unfavorable news articles. The trial was brought by the ruling Alianza Pais party and backed by the opposition, which is seeking similar action against Vice President Jorge Glas.
“The Odebrecht company was treated with favors,” said lawmaker Daniel Mendoza of the ruling party In presenting the charges.He said Polit did not fulfill his duties by not auditing contracts signed between the state and the Brazilian construction company. “Regardless of whether you have delegated the signature, regardless of whether you have used this nefarious practice of trying to shield your actions, you have simply demonstrated that you have breached your duties,” Mendoza said. Authorities raided Polit’s home on June 2.
The case is part of an investigation into $33.5 million in bribes that Odebrecht executives have admitted paying Ecuadorian officials from 2007 to 2016. The Odebrecht scandal erupted during the investigation of a massive pay-to-play scheme at Brazil’s state oil company Petrobras, which has dirtied the names of a string of top Brazilian politicians and business executives.
The fallout has been felt around Latin America after Odebrecht executives admitted in plea bargains that a secret bribery department in the company systematically paid multi-million-dollar bribes to win public works contracts throughout the region. — AFP