Peru: Former President Kuczynski barred from leaving country amid corruption probe | News | DW | 24.03.2018
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Peru: Former President Kuczynski barred from leaving country amid corruption probe

A court has ruled that ex-President Kuczynski will not be allowed to leave the country pending a corruption investigation. He's not the only Peruvian leader facing allegations of shady business practices.

A Peruvian judge on Saturday barred former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski from leaving the country for 18 months.

The ruling by Judge Juan Carlos Sanchez came while police were raiding two of Kuczynski's homes, looking for evidence that could tie him to a massive corruption scheme.

Kuczynski, 79, resigned on Wednesday just hours before a parliamentary impeachment vote amid growing questions surrounding massive payments to his consulting firm a decade ago when he was finance minister.

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Anti-corruption prosecutor Hamilton Castro told the court there was a long history in Peru that justified restricting Kuczynski's movements.

"Peru since the 19th century has watched the sad show as presidents and ex-presidents flee the country and justice," he said, in asking the court to bar Kuczynski from leaving the country. "This is the historical behavior that we seekers of justice have to take into account."

Kuczynski was not present in the courtroom Saturday as his lawyer promised his client would fully cooperate with the probe and would abide by the prosecutor's request to stay in the country.

Sanchez agreed with the prosecutor's request in issuing his order.

"The legal argument is well founded to impede Citizen Pedro Pablo Kuczynski from exiting the country," he said.

Massive corruption scandal

Former Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski waves to onlookers as he leaves the presidential palace after announcing his resignation.

Former Peruvian President Kuczynski waves as he leaves office after announcing his resignation on Wednesday

Prosecutors are investigating payments of more than $780,000 made to Kuczynski's consulting firm from the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht. Given that some of the payments were made at the same time Kuczynski was a government minister there are suspicions that the money was given in return for political favors.

Kuczynski, a former Wall Street investor, has denied any wrongdoing. He said the Westfield Capital consulting firm was being managed by his business partner at the time and that he paid taxes on all earnings.

But the corruption scandal appears bigger than Kuczynski. Odebrecht has admitted to paying a staggering $800 million in bribes to an array of officials across Latin America, including $29 million in Peru.

Kuczynski is the fourth former Peruvian president to be investigated for taking bribes from Odebrecht. One is currently in jail but another, Alejandro Toledo, has refused to return to Peru from the US to face charges.  He is suspected of receiving as much $20 million in bribes from Odebrecht during his presidency.

Martin Vizcarra, the former vice-president, is sworn-in as president in Lima.

Martin Vizcarra, the former vice-president, is sworn-in as president in Lima on Friday

Kuczynski was a finance minister in the Toledo government from 2001 – 2006. He had denied all links to the construction giant until the firm revealed it issued the bribes in exchange for contracts in December.

On Friday, Martin Vizcarra, Kuczynski's vice president, was sworn in as Peru's new president.

bik/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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