Suspicion had been in the air for months. In December of 2017, the court that sentenced the former vice-president, Jorge Glas, for illicit association ordered that the Prosecutor’s Office investigate a possible case of organized crime associated with the scheme of bribes of the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.
The sentence is explicit. It is presumed, says the document, the “perpetration of other crimes of embezzlement, concussion, bribery, illicit enrichment, influence peddling, money laundering, front row and organized crime.” Until now, the Prosecutor’s Office had little or no progress in these cases.
César Montúfar, Glas’s private accuser, put his foot on the accelerator. He is sure that the self-styled ‘citizen revolution’ was only an “organized group that took the State by the electoral route and from there commit these crimes against the public administration”.
He said it yesterday in the Office of the Prosecutor. It was to recognize the signature on the complaint that he put on March 5 and to render his version. He, a lawyer by profession and now a candidate for the mayoralty of Quito, agrees with the court in which the list of possible crimes is long. For that reason, for procedural economy, insists that the investigation must begin by uncovering the organized scheme that was installed in the country and that allowed the commission of the scandalous acts of corruption denounced in recent months.
His lawyer, Julio Sarango, sees urgent that the Office of the Prosecutor and then the judges give way, for example, to the application of precautionary measures against those denounced starting with the former president, Rafael Correa, and former Vice President Glas; the former president of the Assembly, José Serrano; the former Secretary of the Presidency, Alexis Mera; the ex-attorneys-general, Galo Chiriboga and Carlos Baca Mancheno; former Comptroller Carlos Pólit and ex-Attorney Diego García.
One of these measures: the prohibition to dispose of goods and bank accounts in the country and in Panama, the Marshall Islands, Singapore, Hong Kong and the United States. “There’s the money,” said the lawyer.
They, the complainants, speak of “astronomical figures that were improperly appropriated.” Montúfar said that only in the five contracts that were investigated in the case of illegal association (Hidroeléctrica Manduriacu, Poliducto Pascuales-Cuenca, Daule-Vinces Transfer, La Esperanza Aqueduct and the Pacific Refinery) the impact on the country was 870 million dollars.
According to his theory, which the Prosecutor’s Office must confirm, these are not “exceptional” acts of corruption, committed by officials “who deviated from the road” (That has been the thesis of Correa defending the management of his government).
As EXPRESO said yesterday, Montúfar believes that there was an “institutionalized scheme” to commit a crime.
That scheme would have begun to be configured from the Constitution itself, he says, when all vestige of independence from the powers of the State was erased.
The second element is to appoint people of absolute confidence to manage the strategic sectors. Proof of this would be the cases of corruption associated not only with Odebrecht, but also with Petroecuador.
The third element in this scheme was, the control institutions such as the Prosecutor’s Office, the Comptroller’s Office and the Procurator’s Office and even the Assembly.
“They were part of the same group (…) it was a hierarchical scheme in which each played a role to affect the State,” said Montúfar. “It was at the top of the State that a corruption scheme was organized,” he added.
The former president, who is usually very active in social networks, did not comment on this new process that is opened against him (the sixth) for possible crimes against the public administration. Until the close of this edition, Correa concentrated on promoting the march that his supporters will make today against the government of Lenin Moreno.
Ricardo Patiño, one of the men closest to the former president and also a former official, did react. “They waste their time. The only thing that Rafael Correa and his government team did was to transform this country for good: works, rights, equality, sovereignty, and welfare for the people, “he said.
The proceedings against Rafael Correa
On March 1, 2017, the surrogate controller, Pablo Celi, asked the Attorney General’s Office to incorporate the ex -mandante as part of the investigation for alleged embezzlement in the award of the Singue oil field. The control entity believes that there was a loss of 5.2 million dollars.
Public debt case
In April, the Office of the Comptroller General indicated Correa and his former finance ministers for alleged irregularities in the management of public debt. Peculation is also investigated. Correa was linked by the issuance of a decree with which the categorization of the debt was changed and the legal limit was evaded.
A third case opened in the Prosecutor’s Office for alleged embezzlement investigates oil presale contracts, signed by Petroecuador with Petrochina, Unipec and PetroTailandia. Correa was called to give his version.
The Prosecutor’s Office requested information from its bank accounts, and from 11 other former officials, to twelve countries.
Fernando Balda accuses Rafael Correa as the mastermind of his kidnapping, in Bogotá in 2012. In this file, the Prosecutor’s Office investigates two crimes: illicit association and plagiarism. For that reason, a prison order was issued against the former president. There will be a hearing on Tuesday.
It’s the last accusation. The Prosecutor’s Office initiated an investigation on Tuesday into the alleged crime of organized crime stemming from the Odebrecht case. The complaint was filed by the politician César Montúfar. Until the closing of this edition, Correa had not pronounced.
Justice defends his work
The members of the Justice Commission defended the reforms they made to the crime of illicit association. They affirmed that what was established is a better wording, maintaining the penalty that is three to five years. They said that they have never sought to favor any person, as politician César Montúfar has pointed out. They assured that these pronouncements seek notoriety, even more when the elections are in between. (I)