LIMA, PERU - Peru refiled its request for U.S. authorities to detain and extradite fugitive ex-president Alejandro Toledo on Wednesday, as two other former leaders of the Andean nation vowed to cooperate with a fast-growing graft inquiry.
The United States declined to try to apprehend Toledo when authorities believed he was in California last week, asking Peru’s judiciary for stronger proof that he took $20 million in bribes from Brazilian builder Odebrecht, Peru has said.
Toledo has denied wrongdoing and insists he is not on the run. But he has declined to give his whereabouts since a judge ordered his arrest last week, arguing that the judiciary is biased.
Odebrecht says bribes widespread
Odebrecht has acknowledged distributing hundreds of millions in bribes across Latin America, spurring inquiries from Peru to Panama in Latin America’s biggest regionwide graft scandal.
Peru sent the United States additional information on the investigation Wednesday, the attorney general’s office said.
The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment, saying it generally does not discuss extradition-related matters publicly.
The government of Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said it believed Toledo was still in the Bay Area Wednesday, and was pursuing a parallel path to bringing Toledo back.
Kuczynski has asked U.S. President Donald Trump to personally order Toledo’s deportation under a provision in U.S. migratory law that allows the president to expel people to preserve diplomatic ties, Vargas said.
“Without a doubt that would be the shorter and faster path that I think is in the best interest of the country,” Deputy Interior Minister Ruben Vargas said.
Kuczynski, a former Wall Street investor who served as Toledo’s finance minister and prime minister in his 2001-2006 term, plans to meet with Trump on a visit to the United States next week.
Second former president to testify
In Peru, former president Alan Garcia said he was returning to Peru from Spain this week to provide testimony into a natural gas pipeline project proposed by his government that was awarded to Odebrecht during his successor’s term.
Garcia has denied taking any bribes from Odebrecht and has stressed that he is only providing testimony as a witness. Ollanta Humala, who was Peru’s president during 2011-2016, told prosecutors, who have accused him of taking illicit funds from Odebrecht, that he would cooperate fully and invited them to inspect his home, his office said Wednesday.
Humala has previously denied any wrongdoing.
Kuczynski has also denied involvement in kickbacks paid by Odebrecht.
Odebrecht’s former Peru-based executive Jorge Barata told prosecutors he personally negotiated up to $35 million in bribes for Toledo in exchange for help winning two highway contracts in 2005. The company only paid Toledo $20 million because he did not fully meet his end of the bargain, prosecutors have said.
Toledo rose to power denouncing widespread corruption in the government of his predecessor Alberto Fujimori, who is now serving a 25-year sentence in Peru for graft and human rights abuses.