1674677056 A corruption scandal in Ecuador splashes around President Lasso

A corruption scandal in Ecuador splashes around President Lasso

Guillermo Lasso, in Davos last week.Guillermo Lasso, last week in Davos Markus Schreiber (AP)

The departure of the government’s anti-corruption secretary, Guillermo Lasso, came as a surprise. It happened minutes before he left the journalists and an empty chair at the convened press conference, where his representative Luis Verdesoto detailed a report by the organization in which he put forward seven hypotheses about its corruption in four state-owned oil, telecommunications and Electricity company that would affect several Ecuadorian government officials.

One of them is Hernán Luque, appointed by the President himself as his delegate for the management of EMCO, the coordinator of public companies, who resigned his post in October 2022. Luque is no stranger to Lasso, having held several senior positions at Banco de Guayaquil, where the President was the main shareholder.

The first indications of irregularities came to light on January 6 with the release of some audios that would expose an alleged corruption network in state-owned companies, placing Hernán Luque at the center of the network. But 14 days later, prosecutors launched an investigation, dubbed the Encuentro case, in reference to the slogan used by the government, and which has now changed it to just the government of Ecuador.

In the audios, Luque speaks to Leonardo Cortázar – who would be the recordings’ informant – and in an interview with digital media La Posta admitted that he plays the role of operator and lobbyist for contracts and irregular fee management in the state electricity company (column ). One of the leaks reveals a conversation between the two about how to manage the other public company in charge of oil freight (Flopec). Luque asks that his share be “$150,000 a month paid into an account in Andorra.” The President of the Republic admitted in an interview that the vote was the same as that of Hernán Luque.

Also mentioned in these audios is Danilo Carrera, Lasso’s brother-in-law, as the head of the alleged corruption plot in public companies, who has denied any involvement and announced a lawsuit against the journalist who leaked the information. “The position of the brother-in-law of the President of the Republic has never existed, does not exist and never will exist in this government,” the President said on national television. “That he takes his responsibility,” he added, referring to his brother-in-law. “My duty is to defend the integrity of my government.” A few days earlier, Lasso had defended him: “Danilo Carrera is an honorable and irreproachable man.”

to the government It was difficult for him to maintain a clear response on the subject. Luque resigned from his position as public company manager in October 2022; However, when asked in December why the official left the government, the president replied bluntly: “People are resigning and want to leave and want to change positions, what can I do?” However, in his last intervention on January 22, he said that “he left the government because he had no faith in him”.

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The president ordered the executive-appointed anti-corruption secretary to investigate the alleged corruption plot, but he resigned minutes before the report was released, the conclusions of which the government has dismissed. The Encuentro case has triggered an earthquake during eight raids by the prosecutor Resignations in 13 public companiesa new front with the opposition in the assembly, which formed a commission to investigate the alleged corruption network and the main suspect, Hernán Luque, whose whereabouts are unknown.

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