Peru president and rival questioned over links to Odebrecht
LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and one of his leading political rivals appeared Thursday before prosecutors investigating payments to politicians by Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.
Kuczynski and former congresswoman Keiko Fujimori are being investigated by anti-corruption prosecutors in separate probes. Both have denied wrongdoing.
Peru’s president was questioned for four hours at the presidential palace by prosecutor Hamilton Castro, who later left the palace without making comments to the press.
Fujimori, leader of the Popular Force party in Congress, quickly entered the offices of investigators without addressing journalists or dozens of supporters, some shouting “Keiko, you are not alone.” She also made no public comments when she left the offices.
Prosecutor Domingo Perez said that investigators were gathering more evidence and could call on Fujimori to “expand on her declaration” if necessary.
Thursday’s questioning came shortly after Kuczynski narrowly avoided impeachment over the corruption allegations and then set off protests by pardoning jailed former President Alberto Fujimori, Keiko’s father. Many Peruvians believe the pardon was done to secure support from another political party led by Fujimori’s son, Kenji.
The former CEO of Odebrecht has admitted that company executives paid bribes and campaign contributions to secure public works contracts.
Kuczynski , a 79-year-old former Wall Street banker, was already unpopular when an opposition-led investigative committee revealed documents showing Odebrecht made $782,000 in payments to his private consulting firm more than a decade ago. The payments were made during years Kuczynski served as a Peruvian government minister. He cannot be charged until he leaves office. His term ends in 2021.
Keiko Fujimori came under scrutiny because of an apparent reference to her when she was a presidential candidate in 2011 found on the phone of the former Odebrecht CEO, who acknowledged to Peruvian prosecutors that the company gave money to her. S
She denies that her party received any money from the company but had not submitted to questions by prosecutors on three previous occasions.