LIMA, Peru, Feb 8 – Prosecutors in Peru requested the arrest of former president Alejandro Toledo Tuesday over accusations he took a $20-million bribe from scandal-plagued Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht.
A judge now has 48 hours to decide whether to grant the request to jail Toledo for 18 months of “preventive custody” as prosecutors prepare their case against him on charges of money laundering and influence peddling, the attorney general’s office said.
Toledo, Peru’s president from 2001 to 2006, came to office on a promise to clean up politics after a dirty decade under ex-president Alberto Fujimori, who is today in prison for corruption and human rights violations.
The mounting case against him has caused shock in Peru since reports emerged earlier this month that he took a massive bribe to ensure Odebrecht won the juicy contract for a highway linking Brazil and Peru.
Investigators raided Toledo’s house in Lima on Saturday, carting off documents.
The former president is currently believed to be in Paris, and prosecutors argue he poses a flight risk.
The accusations emerged from the giant scandal in Brazil involving the state oil company there, Petrobras, which was bilked for billions of dollars over the course of a decade by corrupt executives, politicians and contractors — including Odebrecht.
Among the tell-all plea bargains to come out of the Brazilian investigation was one from Odebrecht’s former boss in Peru, Jorge Barata, who admitted the company gave Toledo’s government a $20-million bribe for the highway project.
Barata said the intermediary for the bribe was Toledo’s security chief, Israeli national Avraham Dan On, according to investigation documents leaked to the Peruvian press.
The money was allegedly deposited in accounts belonging to a Peruvian-Israeli businessman, Josef Maiman, a friend of Toledo.
Investigators have traced $11 million in bribes to Maiman’s accounts, deposited between 2005 and 2008. They allege the money was then stashed in offshore businesses created by Maiman and Toledo’s mother-in-law.
Toledo denies the accusations.