November 24, 2017 / 10:45 PM / 2 years ago

Peru prosecutors say ex-president Toledo bribed by Brazil's Camargo

LIMA (Reuters) - The Peruvian attorney general’s office accused former president Alejandro Toledo on Friday of taking bribes from Brazilian construction firm Camargo Correa SA [PMORRC.UL] in exchange for a lucrative highway contract during his 2001-2006 term.

An unnamed state’s witness had helped uncover evidence that showed some $3.98 million in payments Camargo made to Toledo through offshore bank accounts controlled by one of Toledo’s associates, the attorney general’s office said in an emailed statement.

Camargo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In Lima, Toledo’s attorney, Heriberto Benitez, said Toledo was innocent of the accusations.

“I spoke with him yesterday, he said: ‘I didn’t take money from anyone,’” Benitez said to Reuters in a phone interview.

Toledo is already wanted in Peru in connection with allegations that he took $20 million in bribes from Odebrecht[ODBES.UL], another privately owned Brazilian builder, for help winning a contract for building a different section of the same highway.

Peruvian authorities are seeking Toledo’s extradition from the United States. His current whereabouts is unclear, but authorities said in February that he was in California, near his alma mater Stanford University.

Following a judge’s order in February that he should be held in pre-trial detention, Toledo said he would not return to Peru. He has repeatedly described the probe as “political persecution”.

Last year Odebrecht admitted to paying millions of dollars in bribes in Peru to secure lucrative government contracts over a decade-long period, spurring a far-reaching investigation to determine which officials received them.

Odebrecht and Camargo were at the center of Brazil’s biggest-ever graft inquiry, known as ‘Operation Car Wash.’

Reporting By Mitra Taj and Marco Aquino, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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