Ecuador im­peaches state ex-comptroller

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

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

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