Former Ecuador president put under house arrest on graft charges

AFP , Saturday 4 Mar 2023

Former Ecuador president Lenin Moreno was put under house arrest Friday for allegedly receiving bribes from a Chinese firm in exchange for a contract to build the country's largest hydroelectric dam, authorities said.

Ecuador president Lenin Moreno
File Photo showing Ecuador s then-incoming president Lenin Moreno announcing his cabinet on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, after weeks of backdoor haggling. AFP

 

Moreno, who was president from 2017 to 2021, and 36 others are suspected of receiving about $76 million in bribes, "the highest amount prosecuted for acts of corruption" in Ecuador, according to the prosecutor's office.

The alleged corruption network operated from 2009 to 2018 around the construction of the Coco Codo Sinclair hydroelectric plant, a $2.3 million project granted to the Chinese company Sinohydro.

Ecuador's Attorney General Diana Salazar requested "preventive detention" for all those under investigation. House arrest was granted to 14 of them, including Moreno, due to their advanced age, her office said on Twitter.

Moreno, 69, has denied the corruption charges.

"I do not have, nor have I had, any responsibility in the contracting" of the Coca Codo Sinclair project, he tweeted on February 22.

The prosecutor's office said Moreno's family group received about $660,000 from the corruption ring. His wife, daughter, brothers and sisters-in-law have also been implicated in the investigation.

The defendants face up to seven years in prison.

Moreno was vice president under former president Rafael Correa from 2007 to 2013 before the pair fell out.

Correa was granted asylum in Belgium after he was convicted in absentia of graft and sentenced to eight years in jail.

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