LIMA – Former Peruvian President Ollanta Humala said on Monday that neither he nor his party received campaign contributions from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.
Humala and wife Nadine Heredia are under investigation over donations to the Peruvian Nationalist Party (PNP) for the 2006 and 2011 presidential campaigns.
The probe was launched after the release of plea-bargain testimony by the Brazilian firm’s erstwhile CEO, Marcelo Odebrecht, and the construction company’s former top executive in Peru, Jorge Barata, who said that he delivered $1 million in cash to Heredia.
Asked about the case during a session on Monday with Foreign Press Association, Humala said: “Regarding Odebrecht, we did not receive that support.”
The man who governed Peru from 2011-2016 denounced the accusations against him as a “political lynching.”
Last week, Marcelo Odebrecht was questioned by Peruvian prosecutors about his claims that the company provided $3 million in all to Humala and the PNP.
Leaks to Peru’s major media outlets indicate that Odebrecht stuck by his earlier assertions, repeatedly denied by Humala and Heredia.
“We maintain our position,” Humala said Monday. “I understand, according to what is coming out in the press, that this gentleman said that he doesn’t know if the money was delivered or not. And we say that we didn’t have campaign support of that nature.”
Marcelo Odebrecht, according to the leaks, said that his company likewise donated money to Humala’s main opponents.
Humala said that Odebrecht, by his own admission, was anxious to ingratiate himself with the top contenders for the presidency.
“In our case, in mid-2010, nobody gave us a chance. We were around 4 percent in the polls and we were the bogeyman of the domestic and international business community,” Humala recalled.
“I was not their favored candidate and I dealt with everybody according to the law. I didn’t make decrees, or addendums (to agreements), to safeguard anybody’s private interest,” he said.
During Humala’s administration, a consortium led by Odebrecht was awarded a $7 billion contract for a natural gas pipeline.
The contract was revoked after Odebrecht reached a massive settlement last December with authorities in the United States, Brazil and Switzerland.
The firm pleaded guilty and agreed to pay at least $3.5 billion to resolve charges arising out of bid-rigging schemes that began as early as 2001 and involved the payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to government officials around the world.
Those countries included Peru, where Odebrecht acknowledged paying $29 million in bribes, according to court documents.
One of Humala’s predecessors, Alejandro Toledo, is accused of accepting $20 million in exchange for granting Odebrecht a lucrative contract to build a highway.