Sunday, April 18, 2021

Peru’s Ex-President Kuczynski link to Odebrecht corruption case under spotlight

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The organized crimes division of the Superior Court has ordered the seizure of two of ex-President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s properties, in a new phase of the District Attorney’s investigations into Kuczynski’s alleged links to Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction firm mired in corruption scandals across the continent.

The properties are a house in San Isidro next door to his residence, where he is being held under house arrest, and a weekend home in Cieneguilla. The San Isidro house, from which all furniture and goods have been confiscated, is owned by Kuczynski’s Dorado Asset Management Company.

The weekend house includes a number of animals — including a donkey— and, according to El Comercio, Kuczynski has until Thursday to find them a new home. According to the district attorney Jose Domingo Perez, Dorado Asset Management is under investigation for alleged money laundering.

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Both properties were raided by the district attorney’s office in April last year when Kuczynski resigned as President. No proof has yet been found of money laundering related to any of the properties.

Kuczynski, 81, is serving a pre-trial, 36-month house arrest sentence issued in April this year while investigations continue into his firm Westfield Capital, which provided investment analysis services to Odebrecht at the time that Kuczynski was a cabinet minister in the Alejandro Toledo administration (2001-2006).

Kuczynski was not involved in the analyses but had not divested ownership of the company. The transaction was not a bribe but a legal service,  invoiced and taxed. Any conflict of interest would be considered, under Peruvian law, a lesser crime without jail time and the statute of limitations has now run out.

But D.A. Perez told the press, after the confiscation of the properties yesterday, that Dorado Asset Management received money from Westfield Capital Ltd in 2006 to purchase the second house in San Isidro, and the investigation is about possible money laundering.

A money laundering investigation allows the judiciary to continue investigations indefinitely, and is the allegation the D.A. office is using for a number of people who received campaign financing from Odebrecht, including former Lima mayor Susana Villaran and former presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori, both of whom are serving pre-trail sentences.

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Ex-President Ollanta Humala and his wife Nadine Heredia are also under investigation and their properties have been seized, but they were released after 10 months in prison because they have three young children.

Earlier this year, Kuczynski, his secretary and his driver were investigated for money laundering —the secretary and the driver were included for handling bank accounts and house management expenses while Kuczynski lived abroad —but so far there have been no charges.  Both the secretary and the driver have been released but report periodically to the court.

Kuczynski was hospitalized for a week earlier this month, for observation of his heart condition. He underwent heart surgery five months ago and is under house arrest because of his age and medical condition.

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