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Peru Prosecutors Conduct Raids Related to Odebrecht Corruption Scandal

The homes of Susana Villarán, the former mayor of Lima, and José Miguel Castro, her former political ally and Municipal Manager of Lima, were raided last week, according to the Public Ministry of Peru.

“Prosecutors Hamilton Castro and Luis Ballón are at the home of Susana Villarán and Prosecutors Sergio Jiménez and Marcial Paucar at the home of José Miguel Castro. The prosecutors are in charge of prosecutor Castro who leads the Special Team,” the Public Ministry said in the tweet on April 5th.

The two are suspected of accepting bribes from Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction conglomerate, and its subsidiary during their time in the municipal government.

In another tweet, the Public Ministry said that the investigation is four months in the making.

“The investigation against the ex-mayor Susana Villarán has so far 4 months of preliminary investigation and is the case that more testimonial statements have been received, said the Special Team spokesman, prosecutor Óliver Chávez,” said the Public Ministry in a tweet on Tuesday.

In the order authorizing the raid, Judge Manuel Antonio Chuyo Zavaleta said that Villarán and Castro “solicited and received” campaign donations from Odebrecht and its subsidiary in return for government contracts.

Excerpt from the order to raid the homes of Susana Villarán and José Miguel Castro / Screenshot taken April 11, 2018
Excerpt from the order to raid the homes of Susana Villarán and José Miguel Castro / Screenshot taken April 11, 2018

Prosecutors say Villarán and Castro received $3 million from Jorge Barata, a former Odebrecht executive who has admitted that he participated in bribery. For more than a decade, Odebrecht systematically bribed politicians across Latin America in order to secure government contracts. Officials admitted in 2016 to spending $800 million in bribes in 10 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including in Peru.

According to El Comercio, Barata said that he was in a meeting with Castro during his time in the Lima municipal government.

However, Castro denies the accusations of corruption.

“I have never received any money, specie, transfers or any payment either from Mr. Barata, or any of the companies related to him or with the Odebrecht group,” said Castro.

The raids come just weeks after former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned the presidency after allegations of corruption arose against him. Commonly known by his initials, PPK barely survived impeachment earlier this year and was expected to be removed by Congress if he did not step down.

PPK was replaced by his first vice president and then-ambassador to Canada, Martín Vizcarra, on March 23, 2018.

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