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  HOME | Ecuador (Click here for more)

Ecuadorian VP’s Uncle Said to Be Suspect in Corruption Probe

QUITO – Ecuadorian authorities declined to name the five people arrested Friday as part of the investigation of bribes paid by Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht to secure public works contracts, but Quito daily El Comercio identified one of those taken into custody as the uncle of Vice President Jorge Glas.

Police raided the residence of Ricardo Rivera around 5 am, breaking down the door of his condominium near the coastal city of Guayaquil, the newspaper said.

After searching Rivera’s home and vehicle, police took the vice president’s uncle away in handcuffs, El Comercio reported.

In the course of carrying out the arrests, police seized a strongbox from a Quito hotel room as well as “Odebrecht-related documents” from the premises of a company, prosecutor Thania Moreno told reporters.

The search of a residence in Guayaquil turned up five safes containing a total of $170,000 in cash, along with expensive jewelry, luxury vehicles, and unlicensed firearms, the prosecutor said.

Officers executing a search warrant at another home discovered relevant documents and a $980,000 check from Odebrecht, she said.

“With technical rigor and respect for the people detained, and in strict observance of due process, the evidence to take these actions confirms that the detainees and the businesses searched formed part of a network of organized crime which involved and had as its central focus the Odebrecht firm,” Attorney General Carlos Baca said.

He announced that he and a team from his office would be traveling to Brazil next week to collect statements and additional evidence.

Last December, Odebrecht and its petrochemical unit Braskem pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a combined total penalty of at least $3.5 billion to resolve charges with authorities in the United States, Brazil and Switzerland.

Those charges arose out of schemes that operated for more than a decade and involved the payment of some $788 million in bribes to government officials, their representatives and political parties in a number of countries in Latin America and Africa.

As part of efforts to put the scandal behind it, Odebrecht has reached financial settlements with individual Latin American governments and pledged to cooperate with criminal investigations.

 

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