Ecuador’s Council of Citizen Participation and Social Control (Cpccs) has ordered an investigation into possible corruption in large construction projects during the presidency of Rafael Correa. At the same meeting Wednesday, the council placed a freeze on all judicial appointments.
The council, which was reappointed following Ecuador’s February referendum, says it has discovered “convincing evidence” that corruption was involved in the Pacific Refinery project in Manabí Province; the Toachi – Pilatón Hydroelectric plant; repair work at the Esmeraldas Refinery; the Pascuales – Cuenca pipeline; and the Manduriacu hydroelectric plant.
In addition, the council ordered the Secretariat of Transparency to audit the books of post-earthquake reconstruction in Manabí, and the construction of new schools and public hospitals.
Council president Julio César Trujillo said that new evidence of corruption goes beyond that being prosecuted in the Odebrecht bribery scandal.
Trujillo added that the purpose of the investigation was not only to identify corruption but to recover money that was disbursed illegally.
During its Wednesday meeting, the council also ordered Ecuador’s National Council of the Judiciary to suspend new appointments until its practices are reviewed. The order affects appointments of judges, prosecutors, and administrative staff.
The council says it will invite public comments on previous appointments and operational procedures of the judicial council, saying that it had received complaints of favoritism and other unethical practices.
Trujillo said that suspension of appointments is temporary, aimed at eliminating “craftiness and arbitrariness” in the judicial appointment process.
Responding the the council actions from his home in Brussels, Correa called the investigation a “public lynching.”