Ecuador News

Ex-energy minister says he came home to face justice in a system that is ‘finally independent and not rigged’

Former energy minister Carlos Pareja Yannuzzelli says he decided to return to Ecuador because the country’s justice system is finally independent. “Today, because of the actions of President (Lenin) Moreno, I believe that justice in this country is truly independent,” he said Friday night. “I submit myself to this independent justice system.”

Carlos Pareja in 2015.

Pareja was arrested Friday night at the Quito international airport when he arrived from Miami, where he had been living for nine months. He was convicted in absentia and sentenced to five years in prison last year for his part in a $45 million bribery scheme involving government construction contracts.

While he was in Miami, Pareja released a video tape in which he claimed that the justice system under former President Rafael Correa was “rigged and totally controlled” by the executive branch of government. “When this changes, I will return to Ecuador to face real justice,” he said.

In another tape, Pareja claimed that Vice President Jorge Glas, who had official oversight over Ecuador’s hydrocarbon sector, was involved in corruption at government-owned Petroecuador. “He was up to his eyeballs in it,” Pareja said.

Pareja’s attorney Gustavo Gaete says he will appeal the five-year sentence and will present new evidence in the case. He also said his client will cooperate with the federal prosecutor’s office and will share information about Glas’ role in Petroecuador corruption.

Defending Glas in Tweets and a Facebook video post, former president Correa said that he expected to hear new “infamies against the vice president” from Pareja. “I wonder what protections the government offered this criminal (Pareja) to spread more lies about Jorge (Glas).”

Pareja is being held in a jail north of Quito.

  • StillAlive

    While I doubt it is truly independent since it was “reformed” by AP, it appears we won’t be seeing the kind of political interference that we saw during Correa’s reign, when Correa was abusing criminal defamation laws in order to restrict freedom of expression in Ecuador.

    • Michael Berger

      I’m confused. I thought Faulkner said that there was no corruption in Ecuador’s legal system and that the decisions of judges were independent and not simply handed down by Correa. Could it be that the ex energy minister is simply less informed than Faulkner about how Ecuador’s legal system worked under Correa?

      Another point of confusion has to do with Pareja testifying against Glas. My understanding was Glas was as pure as the driven snow; his only accusers were supposed to have been a couple of former beauty queens who were upset that Lasso lost the election.

      • Beth

        Could it be that you can’t tell the difference between media banter and facts?

  • Dan Kennedy

    I think Pareja figures he can get a reduced or vacated sentence for throwing Glas under the bus.

  • Karen

    Five years in the ‘clink’ is a small price to pay for millions of dollars. Where do I sign up for that?

    • edgeof 2

      Really !?! You would be currupt for money if it were a 5 year sentence….

    • Karen Lynn Kennedy

      Yeah…but where will they spend all those millions???? At some point they will be indicted and the money will be useless to them. They can’t spend it behind bars and they won’t dare spend it if they don’t get put behind bars.

  • StillWatching

    Why aren’t the politically correct defending faulkner these days? Did they finally wake up and see that I was right all along?