Alexis Mera, former legal secretary of the Presidency, was the first to testify on Monday, November 27, 2017, during the fourth day of trial for the Odebrecht case. Before sitting on the bench, the former official greeted Vice President Jorge Glas with a handshake. “Good morning with everyone,” he said to the rest.
The former secretary spoke mainly about the expulsion of Odebrecht, in 2008, due to the construction failures detected at the San Francisco plant; and the return of the company to Ecuador, in 2010. His appearance preceded that of a character that has not had a public presence: Olga Muentes
After midday on Monday, Judge Flores Mier gave a two-hour recess. In the afternoon, the first witness on the stand was Muentes, an adviser to Glas between 2007 and 2017. She acknowledged that Ricardo Rivera, uncle of the Vice President, called him, but he did not respond. “They were sporadic, not followed. I do not know if he has answered his calls,” she said before the Court, in the National Court of Justice of Ecuador.
Muentes revealed that she worked for Odebrecht between 1996 and 2003 and admitted having seen José Concençiao Santos (ex-representative of Odebrecht in Ecuador and current collaborator of the Office of the Prosecutor, at the office of the Vice-President of the Republic, in the Historic Center of Quito) she says he paid $ 13.5 million to Glas, through his uncle, for the award of contracts), but did not remember how many times the Brazilian came to that office.
On August 30, 2017, Muentes, adviser to Glas since 2013, had already appeared before the prosecutor Wilson Toainga; then she answered 15 questions. He was asked if he received calls from Rivera. Muentes answered yes. She said he did not remember how many times he talked to the uncle of the Vice President, but said that they were “some” and that he requested to be taken care of by Glas; although “I did not answer”
Muentes, a 44-year-old economist, qualified herself as “government manager” of the Second President. She was in charge of preparing memory aids, data for official presentations and even to supervise and coordinate possible Glas meetings.
Mera: Glas led the return of Odebrecht to Ecuador
In his statement at the Court, Mera pointed out that it is true that Jorge Glas led the exit of the Odebrecht company from Ecuador in 2008, as president of the Solidarity Fund, but also the return of the construction company in 2010, as minister of the Sectors Strategic When the expulsion took place, Glas “was furious, scandalized, annoyed, because Odebrecht wanted to charge for repairs about 10 million. He mistreated them, “said Mera.
But two years later, Glas directed the construction company’s return to the country. Mera said that and recalled that one morning Glas requested a meeting with then President Rafael Correa. At that meeting, the Second President informed them of the possibility of reaching an agreement with the Brazilian firm, revealed the former legal secretary of Carondelet.
The alleged conditions would be for Odebrecht to fully repair the damage to the San Francisco plant and to pay compensation for the months it was halted, but not for new projects. “We trust what Jorge Glas told us,” said Mera. And he said that from that time he did not hear anything from Odebrecht until December 21, 2016, when the US uncovered the corruption network of the Brazilian construction company in the region.
In his free and voluntary version of August, the former secretary already warned that the negotiations for the return of the company were made by Glas and that Correa and him were only informed of the terms of the agreement.
Carlos Baca asked him if Correa was aware of the contractual and pre-contractual processes of the works that are being investigated today. “Nor the President or I were intervened,” he replied. In the final stretch of his testimony, Mera spoke about the Pascuales-Cuenca Poliducto and said that Correa did not know about the award of that project. In April 2015, the then president pointed out the following: “I could not imagine the magnitude of this work (…). And they tell me that Cuenca’s storage center is even bigger. ”
Glas blamed Rafael Poveda, then Minister of the Strategic Sectors. Two months later, the minister resigned, Mera said. The reasons for his departure were never publicly known.
Carlos Barredo, former manager of the Electric Corporation of Ecuador (Celec), also intervened on Monday. He explained details of the Manduriacu plant, another of the projects awarded to Odebrecht. He said Glas applied for a loan from the Brazilian Development Bank (Bndes) to build the hydroelectric plant. Both traveled to that country to talk with the interested companies; The bank’s condition was that only companies from that nation would participate
Odebrecht’s offer was USD 124 million; and that of the OAS-Engeveix consortium, of USD 174 million. Barredo did not rule out that Brazilian companies have made a “pact” before Odebrecht won. He clarified that Glas did not suggest giving the contract to any particular company.
Tomislav Topic, owner of Telconet, was another of the last witnesses he testified Monday. He said he knew Rivera for about 35 years. And he recalled that in 2010 Glas’s uncle proposed to intermediate in two negotiations. The first, with Odebrecht, for Telconet to provide services; and the second, with Chinese investors, in a project of the Topic Company.
For the first business, Odebrecht transferred USD 2 million from an offshore used for the payment of bribes. Tópic said that he did not know the sender of the money and for that reason he cataloged it as ‘unknown’, until in these months he could know that it was an offshore to pay bribes. That amount was consigned to the Prosecutor’s Office as evidence.
On Chinese investors, Topic said that an agreement was reached to invest USD 30 million in a cable project. But they only delivered 13.5 million. At night, Glas announced that he will ask Correa to testify in this case. (I)