Published: Mon, February 13, 2017
National | By Miranda Cannon

Israel says will not admit Peru's fugitive ex-president


Peru put former president Alejandro Toledo on its list of the country's most wanted criminals on Friday after a judge issued an worldwide warrant over allegations he took $20 million in bribes from Brazilian builder Odebrecht.

Judge Richard Concepcion said evidence uncovered so far in a graft probe, including testimony from an Odebrecht executive and bank records, warranted putting Toledo in "preventive prison" while charges of influence peddling and money laundering were prepared.

Peru said Interpol issued a red alert to 190 member countries to help find him, but Mr Toledo did not appear on its list of wanted persons.

Odebrecht is at the centre of a multi-national corruption scandal. He was last known to be in France a week ago. On Thursday he had told reporters Toledo was outside Peru but would not say where, citing a confidentiality agreement with his client. "With judges like this, careful!"

The government of President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski added that it was asking authorities in the United States and Israel to help capture him. It admitted, as part of a plea deal with the U.S. justice department, to paying almost $800m (£640m) in bribes to governments across Latin America.

Concepcion ruled Toledo, president from 2001-06, should be remanded in custody and rejected a bail request from Toledo's lawyers.

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Toledo, who has an economics degrees from Stanford University, has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged or convicted of any crimes.

Prosecutor Castro opened his case, that Toledo be jailed while investigations continue, quoting the Incan law "ama sua" or "do not steal". Toledo is accused of taking $20 million in bribes to secure construction contracts from the firm. Toledo did, however, change laws to pave the way for Odebrecht's bid and pressured the tendering committee to pick its proposal, Castro said.

Toledo has a long friendship with Israeli businessman Yosef Maiman, who prosecutors accuse of acting as a middleman for at least $10 million in alleged bribes, Reuters reports.

Maiman did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

According to prosecutor Hamilton Castro, Odebrecht and Toledo agreed to a payment of Dollars $20 million directly to the president if he was granted the company the contract for the Southern Interoceanic Highway, which runs through Peruvian territory from the Pacific Ocean to the Brazilian border. Originally requiring an investment of $658 million, cost overruns pushed the final price tag for the two contracts to $1.34 billion, according to the comptroller.

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