Peru Initiates Impeachment Process Against President Kuczynski Over Odebrecht Scandal
In a national address given on Thursday, President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said he will not resign, despite growing pressure over corruption allegations involving Brazilian construction firm- Odebrecht. Kuczynski has denied all accusations.
“I‘m an honest man and have been my whole life. I‘m willing to defend the truth,” Kuczynski said. “I‘m not going to abdicate my honor, my values, or my responsibilities as president of all Peruvians.”
In a special session held on Friday, Dec 16, 27 of the 130 members of Congress agreed to begin the impeachment process. However, to approve this motion, 52 votes are needed from Peru's 130 lawmakers and Kuczynski would have to be summoned to defend himself in front of Congress.
The Peruvian President is not the only leader to have known connections with Odebrecht as the construction giant has admitted to paying bribes to various Latin American heads of state and politicians. Odebrecht has even admitted to paying Kuczynski $5 million (£3.7 million) in advisory fees while he was employed as a senior government official.
In fact, Odebrecht sent Congress a requested report which included deposits totaling about $800,000 to Westfield Capital Ltd, Kuczynski's company, and about $4 million to First Capital Inversiones y Asesorias, a firm controlled by a close friend of Kuczynski.
On Wednesday, Ecuador's Vice President Jorge Glas was sentenced to six years for taking $13.5 million in bribes from Odebrecht, becoming the highest-ranking politician to be convicted in the scandal.
Former CEO Marcelo Odebrecht began his 19-year jail sentence last year after being convicted of paying more than $30 million (£21 million) in bribes to officials in Brazil's state oil company, in exchange for contracts and political influence. More than 70 other Odebrecht executives have been imprisoned but have provided information in exchange for more lenient sentences.
Marcelo Odebrecht allegedly told prosecutors that the company once hired Kuczynski as an advisor to mend ties with him after a dispute over contracts it won in Toledo’s government. Prosecutors have also summoned Kuczynski to explain the payments, which may have violated laws against money laundering. In the case that he is not impeached, the president holds immunity from prosecution until his departure from office in 2021.