Peru lawmakers probe Odebrecht link to former firm of president

LIMA (Reuters) - A Peruvian congressional committee on Wednesday launched a probe into a defunct consortium led by scandal-plagued Brazilian builder Odebrecht, after local media revealed it did business with a firm previously owned by President Martin Vizcarra. Any association with Odebrecht is politically risky in Peru, though there is no indication of anything improper about the company's dealings and CyM Vizcara S.A.C. from more than a decade ago, long before Odebrecht became the center of Latin America's biggest graft scandal.

Reuters January 17, 2019 03:06:41 IST
Peru lawmakers probe Odebrecht link to former firm of president

Peru lawmakers probe Odebrecht link to former firm of president

LIMA (Reuters) - A Peruvian congressional committee on Wednesday launched a probe into a defunct consortium led by scandal-plagued Brazilian builder Odebrecht, after local media revealed it did business with a firm previously owned by President Martin Vizcarra.

Any association with Odebrecht is politically risky in Peru, though there is no indication of anything improper about the company's dealings and CyM Vizcara S.A.C. from more than a decade ago, long before Odebrecht became the center of Latin America's biggest graft scandal.

Since Odebrecht admitted in 2016 that it bribed Peruvian officials for years to secure lucrative contracts, all four of Peru's most recent presidents have come under investigation for links with the company.

Vizcarra initially denied in a news conference last week that CyM Vizcarra had ever done business with Odebrecht.

But he later acknowledged it had worked for the now-defunct Odebrecht consortium Conirsa, after local TV show Panorama revealed documents showing CyM Vizcarra was a Conirsa supplier in 2006 and 2008, earning about $100,000.

The misstep provided ammunition for opposition lawmakers who have sought to depict Vizcarra - whose popularity has risen to more than 65 percent in recent opinion polls - as corrupt or authoritarian.

The oversight committee in Peru's Congress voted 7-2 to open a probe into Conirsa's contracts, with opposition lawmaker Mauricio Mulder saying it was suspicious Vizcarra had not been more forthcoming about CyM Vizcarra's past work for Conirsa.

Vizcarra's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Vizcarra said this week that CyM Vizcarra merely rented machinery to Conirsa for a highway it was building, and that he did not mention it in the news conference because the journalist asked about Odebrecht and not specifically Conirsa. He said he has not been a part of CyM Vizcarra, now run by his brother, since he became president last year.

"Let them evaluate what they think is appropriate," Vizcarra said in broadcast comments on Tuesday when asked about a possible congressional probe. "We're not afraid."

Vizcarra's predecessor, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, had repeatedly denied having any link to Odebrecht before eventually acknowledging he had been a consultant for the company. Kuczynski resigned in March in part because of the scandal that revelation caused, allowing Vizcarra, his vice president, to replace him.

Unlike Kuczynski, Vizcarra never oversaw Odebrecht's contracts as a government minister and enjoys broad support among Peruvians, thanks largely to his anti-graft reforms and tougher stance with Congress.

Most Peruvians disapprove of the opposition-run Congress and opposition leader Keiko Fujimori, who is now in jail pending trial in connection with alleged payments from Odebrecht. She denies wrongdoing.

(Reporting by Mitra Taj; Editing by Richard Chang)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.