Ever-widening scandal reveals Ecuador's heart of Glas
The Odebrecht corruption investigation has spread to the very highest echelons of Ecuadorean political life
Quito, 4 October (Argus) — Ecuador's vice-president Jorge Glas has been detained as part of a corruption investigation tied to Brazilian contractor Odebrecht.
A pre-trial detention order was granted by a judge at the request of Ecuador's attorney-general. The move deepens the rift between new president Lenin Moreno and his predecessor Rafael Correa, who led the country for a decade.
Moreno stripped Glas of his duties in August, before the national assembly lifted his immunity to allow him to be investigated for bribery and conspiracy linked to the Odebrecht scandal. The attorney-general's office is prosecuting 18 other suspects, including Glas' uncle and media entrepreneur Ricardo Rivera.
The investigation relates to five projects built by Odebrecht in the past decade, including preliminary work for the long-delayed 300,000 b/d Pacific refinery, the 60MW Manduriacu hydro plant and the Daule-Vinces water and irrigation project, both inaugurated in 2015, and the Pascuales-Cuenca oil pipeline. The pipeline remains unfinished and has multiple defects.
Glas turned himself in, but is not considering resigning his post, his lawyer Eduardo Franco says. His legal team plans to challenge the detention order.
Odebrecht's former director in Ecuador, Jose Conceicao Santos, on 27 September testified that Odebrecht paid $16mn in bribes to Glas and Rivera. Glas allegedly received $2mn to allow Odebrecht to return to Ecuador after Correa had expelled the firm in 2008 over alleged faulty work at the San Francisco hydro plant. The remaining $14mn was allegedly paid as a 1pc bribe that Glas requested for every state-owned infrastructure contract awarded to Odebrecht, Santos says.
Odebrecht has admitted paying bribes to secure major energy and infrastructure projects in Latin America.