June 2, 2017 / 7:01 PM / 2 years ago

Ecuador arrests five, including VP's relative, in Odebrecht sweep

QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador arrested five people on Friday, including a relative of the vice president, and raided several companies as part of a local investigation into Brazilian construction company Odebrecht’s corruption scandal.

Chief Prosecutor Carlos Baca addresses the media after Ecuador arrested five people, including a relative of the Vice President, and raided several companies as part of a local investigation into Brazilian construction company Odebrecht's corruption scandal, in Quito, Ecuador June 2, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Tapia

The state prosecutor’s office did not provide names, but Vice President Jorge Glas, who oversaw the oil and infrastructure sectors while serving as strategic sectors minister, said a relative of his was among the detained.

The arrests took place after Chief Prosecutor Carlos Baca met with Brazil’s attorney general on Thursday to receive information from plea bargain deals.

In over a dozen raids, authorities found cash, luxury cars, weapons, jewels, a check from Odebrecht for $980,000, and documents linked to the case, the prosecutor’s office said.

“Those detained and the raided companies are part of a wider web of organized crime that involved and had as its center the company Odebrecht,” Baca told journalists, adding he would return to Brazil to obtain more information.

Glas has been accused by a fugitive former oil minister of being “the ringleader” of a bribe network in the energy sector.

A childhood friend of leftist ex-President Rafael Correa who also served as his vice president, Glas has consistently denied any wrongdoing and on Friday called for a full investigation.

“According to the information I have, a relative of mine is being investigated. Everything should be investigated and justice had,” he told journalists.

Local media reported an uncle of Glas had been arrested.

The police also raided the home of the national comptroller, Carlos Polit, according to his lawyer Hernan Ulloa, who accused authorities of violating due process because Polit was abroad for health reasons.

Odebrecht SA [ODBES.UL] allegedly paid $33.5 million in bribes to secure contracts in Ecuador. The opposition says the ruling Country Alliance party was slow to investigate, although Correa rejected that.

“Odebrecht, the corrupt and corrupting company, apparently did as it pleased during its entire time in Ecuador,” said new President Lenin Moreno during a meeting with his ministers in the coastal city of Babahoyo.

Additional reporting by Jose Llangari, writing by Alexandra Ulmer; editing by Frances Kerry and Marguerita Choy

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