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21 Apr, 2023 21:37

Ex-president of South American country surrenders

Alejandro Toledo has accepted extradition to Peru to face corruption charges
Ex-president of South American country surrenders

Former president of Peru Alejandro Toledo turned himself in to the US Marshals Service on Friday, after a judge rejected the motion to block his extradition to Lima on charges of receiving bribes.

Peruvian prosecutors issued a warrant for Toledo’s arrest in 2017, accusing the former president of accepting nearly $32 million in bribes from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht while he was in office, between 2001 and 2006. He was jailed in 2019 but released on bail and placed under house arrest at his home in Menlo Park, California pending extradition proceedings.

Earlier this week, the 77-year-old lost his case before the Ninth Circuit federal court of appeals, leaving him with no options to avoid being sent to Peru. Toledo faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted though he has denied all allegations.

Peruvian authorities say two witnesses can prove Toledo accepted bribes in exchange for giving Odebrecht the contract to build a portion of the Interoceanic Highway connecting Peru to Brazil. 

Every elected president of Peru since 1990 has faced corruption charges. Toledo’s predecessor Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) was convicted and is currently in prison, while his successor Alan Garcia committed suicide in 2019, before he could be arrested in the Odebrecht case. Ollanta Humala (2011-2016), Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (2016-2018), Martin Vizcarra (2018-2020) and Pedro Castillo (2021-2022) are currently either under investigation or on trial.

Castillo was ousted in December 2022, when he tried to dissolve Congress and call new elections. The powerful legislature impeached the president and named Vice President Dina Boluarte as his replacement until 2026.

As part of a plea deal with the US government in 2016, Odebrecht admitted to paying $788 million in bribes to various South American governments. The scandal led to the largest-ever corruption probe in Brazilian history, known as Lava Jato (Car Wash). Brazilian President Dilma Roussef was impeached over the scandal, while her predecessor Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva ended up in prison. Lula was re-elected president in 2022, after an appeals court voided his conviction as unjust, however.