LIMA – The Congress of Peru approved on Friday a motion to hold a formal impeachment debate next week against President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski on the grounds of his “permanent moral incapacity” due to his failure to disclose payments made by Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht to a company he owned.
The unicameral legislature, in which the opposition has an absolute majority, approved the impeachment proceedings – to be debated on Dec. 21 – against Kuczynski proposed by the left-wing Broad Front, with 93 votes in favor and 17 against.
The next step in the proceedings would be the formal impeachment debate, which has been scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 21.
In support of their impeachment drive, lawmakers had presented on Friday Kuczynski’s written statements to the congressional commission investigating alleged bribe-making by Odebrecht to win public contracts in Peru.
In those statements, the president denies having received money from Odebrecht even though the opposition-chaired commission said on Wednesday it had received documents from the company showing it paid Kuczynski’s financial-consulting business, Westfield Capital Ltd., more than $782,000 between 2004-2007.
During those years, Kuczynski served as economy minister and prime minister in the Cabinet of former President Alejandro Toledo, who was in office from 2001-2016.
Kuczynski refused on Thursday to step down despite mounting pressure from the opposition.
“It cost us a lot to get our democracy back. We’re not going to lose it again. I am not going to give up my honor, nor my values, nor my responsibilities as president of all Peruvians,” he wrote on Twitter.
Kuczynski had previously denied carrying out any type of consultancy work for Odebrecht, but last week admitted that he worked as an advisor through the company First Capital for a firm which was part of the Odebrecht group.
Kuczynski is the latest major Peruvian political figure to find himself in legal hot water.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Toledo, who is accused of awarding Odebrecht a major highway project in exchange for $20 million. Toledo, who denies wrongdoing, is a fugitive from justice who is currently living in the United States.
Kuczynski’s predecessor, Ollanta Humala, and his wife have been jailed on charges they accepted illegal campaign donations from Odebrecht.
Odebrecht and Sao Paulo-based petrochemical company Braskem reached a settlement last December with the US Department of Justice in which they pleaded guilty to paying $788 million in bribes to government officials around the world.
The companies 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 arising out of those schemes.