The judicial investigations now confirm it: Odebrecht paid bribes to accelerate the award of the Toachi-Pilatón Project in its favor. In December 2016, the US Justice initially revealed that the Brazilian construction company mounted an illicit scheme in Ecuador since 2010, but now, after Alecksey Mosquera’s trial, the Attorney General’s Office assures that the company has already carried out illicit practices since 2007.
In that year, Odebrecht executives activated the first approaches with Ecuadorian officials, one of them Mosquera, then head of the Ministry of Energy. The million dollars that Odebrecht apparently paid the former minister, through four deposits, coincided with the “schedule of disbursements that Hidrotoapi” made to the construction company to start the works of the plant, according to the Prosecutor’s investigations.
Hidrotoapi is the company that signed the contract with Odebrecht to build the hydroelectric plant, for an amount of USD 470 million. The agreement was signed in December 2007. Of that value, Hidrotoapi only paid USD 112 million, because in October 2008 Odebrecht was expelled from the country. Before leaving, the company returned around USD 98 million, which it still did not execute. These details were analyzed by the Comptroller’s Office, through a special examination signed in September 2008.
The control body detected that the advance of 112 million was made before the date of the start of the construction of the work, contravening clause 16 of the contract. In the report, the Office of the Comptroller General assured that until the cutoff date of the special examination (September 15, 2008), only preliminary works related to access to the works of the dams, tunnels, etc. had been executed.
“Therefore, seven months have elapsed since the cancellation date of the advance and the order to start the works has not been arranged, so this amount was delivered in breach of the contract,” the Comptroller General’s Office said in 2008. However, the control body, at the time led by Carlos Pólit (now a fugitive in Miami for the Odebrecht plot) only made recommendations.
He asked, for example, that for “future contracts” the advance payment would be canceled only if all the clauses of the agreement were fulfilled. In addition, the Hidrotoapi manager and legal counsel were advised to “take all necessary actions” to recover the advance paid, taking into account that as of September 2008, Odebrecht was negotiating the termination of the contract, due to the expulsion ordered by the Government.
In the examination, the Comptroller did not find any irregularity against Mosquera. At that time, as a defense, Hidrotoapi sent trades to the Comptroller General stating that the advance was made legally and in “benefit” of the company, the province of Pichincha and the country. The entity also indicated that the delivery of these initial USD 112 million did not cause “any economic damage”, because the advance was backed by guarantees of good use of that money.
He added that the payment even generated a saving for the entity. These details, which appear in the Comptroller’s report, were not mentioned in the preparatory hearing for the trial against Mosquera. In that diligence, Attorney General Carlos Baca only warned that the million dollars is related to Toachi-Pilatón. And he warned that in this case a crime of laundering is investigated.
To corroborate this possible crime, Baca presented 17 indications against the former minister, which evidences the payment of million dollars and the use of money in machinery. Two other exams In March 2012, the Comptroller’s Office completed a second special examination to build Toachi-Pilatón.
This time, the agency analyzed the contract that Hidrotoapi subscribed with the Chinese company CWE, in December 2010. This Asian firm took over the construction of the civil works of the hydroelectric plant, for an amount of USD 240.8 million. The control entity concluded that there were delays in the delivery of land, the contractor did not include the main technical staff, delays in the progress of the project and non-compliance of CWE in environmental issues. In another report (March 2013), the Comptroller’s Office found similar irregularities and ordered fines of USD 3.25 million against the Asian company, which have already been paid according to the authorities.
The Office of the Prosecutor also tracks the Chinese company for its work in the hydroelectric plant. Yesterday, researchers pointed out that they have already compiled documents related to economic reports of the foreign company. Local banks and the Financial Analysis Unit (Uafe) have already delivered data.
Until November of last year, the construction of the plant had an advance of 95.06%. In December 2017, seven years after the signing of the initial contract was completed. Carlos Pólit He headed the Comptroller’s Office between 2007 and 2017. He was re-elected for a five-year term with 95 points out of 100. He resigned after the Odebrecht scandal. (I)