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  HOME | Peru

Odebrecht Says Payments to Peru Presidentís Company Were Legal

LIMA Ė Brazilian construction company Odebrecht said the more than decade-old payments it made to Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynskiís company when he was a Cabinet minister were within the bounds of the law.

In a letter published Saturday by Peruvian daily La Republica, Odebrecht supported the explanations Kuczynski gave Thursday in a message to the nation, in which he denied any wrongdoing and vowed to fight legislative efforts to force him out of office.

Kuczynski delivered that address after Odebrecht revealed it paid more than $782,000 to Westfield Capital for consulting services between 2004 and 2007, a period in which Kuczynski served as then-President Alejandro Toledoís prime minister and economy minister.

He acknowledged being the owner of Westfield but said his friend and business partner, Chilean businessman Gerardo Sepulveda, was managing the companyís contracts at the time.

The president also admitted that after his time as a Cabinet minister he worked for another company Ė Sepulveda-owned First Capital Ė as a consultant on an Odebrecht project.

Because the president had previously denied any political or professional ties to Odebrecht, Peruís opposition-controlled unicameral legislature filed a motion Friday aimed at ousting him for ďpermanent moral incapacity.Ē

Congress could remove him from office on Dec. 21 in a vote that requires a two-thirds majority (87 of 130 lawmakers).

Peruís constitution allows that legal concept to be employed to remove a head of state for extraordinary circumstances, even if the chief executive has not committed a crime.

It was earlier used to oust Peruvian now-imprisoned former President Alberto Fujimori, whose bid to resign via fax from Japan was rejected by Peruís Congress.

Odebrecht, which has entered into a plea deal with Peruís Attorney Generalís Office stemming from its massive, global bribery schemes, said it had not provided prosecutors with information about payments to Westfield Capital because they were not illegal.

But in response to a request from a congressional committee investigating the extent of Odebrechtís bribery schemes in Peru, the Brazilian company said in a document made public this week that it made more than $782,000 in payments to Westfield and also paid more than $4 million to First Capital for consulting services.

Odebrecht said Sepulveda managed the contracts for the services those two companies provided.

Kuczynski is the latest major Peruvian political figure dogged by corruption allegations.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Toledo, who is accused of awarding Odebrecht a major highway project in exchange for $20 million in bribes. Toledo, who denies wrongdoing, is a fugitive from justice who is currently living in the United States.

Kuczynskiís predecessor, Ollanta Humala, has been jailed on money laundering and conspiracy charges.

Odebrecht and its Sao Paulo-based petrochemical unit Braskem reached a settlement last December with the United States Department of Justice in which they pleaded guilty to paying $788 million in bribes to government officials around the world to win business.

The companies agreed to pay a combined total penalty of at least $3.5 billion to resolve charges with authorities in the US, Brazil and Switzerland arising out of those schemes.

 

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