Fomer Ecuadoran president (2017- 2021) and Commissioner for Disability Affairs of the Secretary General of the OAS, Lenin Moreno Garces, speaks during an interview with AFP in Asuncion on Feb 8, 2022. Ecuador's attorney general on Feb 22, 2023 said she will ask for charges against former president Lenin Moreno and three dozen others for alleged corruption. (PHOTO / AFP)
QUITO – Ecuador's attorney general on Wednesday said she will ask for charges against former president Lenin Moreno and three dozen others for alleged corruption surrounding the construction of the country's largest hydroelectric plant between 2009 and 2018.
The investigation into the case, which began in March 2019, now has the necessary documentation to ask the National Court of Justice to hold a hearing on bribery charges against Moreno and 36 other suspects, said Attorney General Diana Salazar.
The investigation "reveals a structure of corruption around the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric project," Ecuador's attorney general said in a message posted on social media
The investigation "reveals a structure of corruption around the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric project," the prosecutor said in a message posted on social media.
Moreno denied the allegations in an afternoon statement and said the developments were a political distraction from the issues facing Ecuador.
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Moreno has previously said he supports an expansion of the Coca Codo investigation because it would reveal lies against him, accusations he says were orchestrated by former President Rafael Correa, his erstwhile mentor and later enemy.
Moreno was Ecuador's president between 2017 and 2021 and vice president between 2007 and 2013.
Other individuals named by the prosecutor's office could not immediately be reached.
Moreno's wife, one of their daughters, two of his brothers and two sisters-in-law are also among those allegedly connected to the case, Salazar said.
Former managers at Coca Codo and former legal representatives of China's Sinohydro, which was in charge of building the plant, were also allegedly involved with corruption, Salazar said.
"The alleged bribery would amount to about $76 million, which would correspond to approximately 4 percent of the contract, which initially was worth almost $1.979 billion," Salazar explained.
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The final cost of the work exceeded $2.2 billion, the prosecutor said, adding the alleged bribes would have been delivered by Sinohydro and channeled through third parties.
China has not responded to a request for assistance in the case, Salazar said.