Latin America & Caribbean

Peru's ex-President Alejandro Toledo denies taking bribes

Former President of Peru Alejandro Toledo speaks during a discussion on Venezuela and the OAS at The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on June 17, 2016 in Washington, DC. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Alejandro Toledo was the president of Peru from 2001 to 2006

Peru's ex-President Alejandro Toledo has denied corruption allegations against him as "a political lynching".

Mr Toledo, who governed from 2001 to 2006, is accused of receiving millions of dollars in bribes from Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht in return for awarding public works contracts.

The company is at the centre of a multi-national corruption scandal.

It has admitted paying $29m (£23m) in bribes to secure contracts in Peru between 2005 and 2014.

That time spans the presidencies of Mr Toledo and his two successors in office, Alan Garcia and Ollanta Humala. His successors have also denied any wrongdoing.

'Outraged'

Peruvian media reported that Odebrecht's former executive director in Peru, Jorge Barata, accused Mr Toledo of receiving $20m in bribes in exchange for granting the firm a contract to build stretches of a highway linking Peru and Brazil.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Investigators searched the home of Mr Toledo in Lima on Saturday

Mr Barata is co-operating with prosecutors in his native Brazil and Peru as part of a plea bargain.

Mr Toledo strongly rejected the allegations saying: "Let Mr Barata say when, how, where and in which bank left those $20m for me. I won't stand for this!"

Investigators searched Mr Toledo's home for five hours on Saturday. The attorney general's office said documents found at the home would now be evaluated.

Mr Toledo was in France at the time of the search and said he was "outraged by this political lynching coming from my traditional enemies".

'Betrayal'

The current president of Peru, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, urged Mr Toledo to return to Peru to face questioning.

"Very hurt by this news about ex-president Toledo. It's a betrayal of the Peruvian people, and it's a betrayal of his colleagues that worked so hard," he said.

President Kuczynski served as prime minister and finance minister under Mr Toledo but denied knowing anything of the alleged corruption.

"These were things that were negotiated outside of Peru, in Rio de Janeiro, and I certainly wasn't there, if I'd known of these meetings I would have resigned immediately," he said.

President Kuczynski's remarks in turn prompted an angry outburst from Mr Toledo's wife, Eliane Karp, on Facebook.

"Shame on you PPK [Pedro Pablo Kuczynski], you have done so many deals and lobbied so much!" she wrote.

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