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World News

Odebrecht scandal: Peru president Kuczynski resists pressure to quit



Peru’s president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has said he will not resign, despite growing pressure over corruption allegations involving Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht. In a televised address late on Thursday, flanked by members of his cabinet, he denied any wrongdoing.

Scandal-plagued Odebrecht says it paid Mr Kuczynski $5m (£3.7m) in advisory fees in a previous government role.Opposition leaders have called on the president to resign over the issue.

The payments by Odebrecht were made to Westfield Capital Ltd, a company owned by Mr Kuczynski. He said that while he owned the company he was not manager of it when it received the payments.
Writing on Twitter after his address, he said: “It cost us a lot to get our democracy back. We’re not going to lose it again. I’m not going to give up my honour, nor my values, nor my responsibilities as president of all Peruvians.”

Odebrecht was fined a record $3.5bn by the US last year for bribing officials from various countries. Fraudulent “advisory fees” was one method the firm used to funnel bribes to officials, according to the case against the firm.Former company president Marcelo Odebrecht, who is serving a 19-year jail sentence in Brazil and has agreed to co-operate in return for leniency, said Mr

Kuczynski was hired as an advisor in Peru a decade ago, while he was economy minister.Mr Odebrecht also told prosecutors that the construction company had paid $29m (£22m) in bribes to Peruvian officials over many years.

What is the Odebrecht scandal?
Mr Kuczynski, 79, initially denied receiving any money from Odebrecht. He now denies receiving any illegal payments but admits working on an advisory basis for the firm.Peru’s right-wing opposition Popular Force party, which controls the country’s congress, claims there is enough evidence to prove corruption by Mr Kuczynski, a centrist elected last year to a five-year term.

The party had warned that it would attempt to begin impeachment proceedings against him if he did not offer his resignation.”It’s obvious that him staying on in the nation’s highest office is untenable,” said party spokesman Daniel Salaverry.

Reuters reported that senior officials in Mr Kuczynski’s government had also called on him to quit.Mr Kuczynski, a former Wall Street banker, has pledged to testify before a congressional commission on Odebrecht wrongdoing in Peru on December 22.

On Wednesday, Ecuador’s vice president, Jorge Glas, was sentenced to six years for taking $13.5 million in bribes from Odebrecht, becoming the highest-ranking politician to be convicted in the scandal.

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