In audio tape, assembly president and Odebrecht fugitive appear to conspire against attorney general

Feb 27, 2018 | 9 comments

By Liam Higgins

Ecuador’s attorney general Carlos Baca says that the president of the National Assembly and a former national comptroller living in exile in Miami are out to get him. On Monday, he released an audio tape of a telephone conversation that appears to support his claim.

National Assembly president Jose Serrano defends himself in afternoon press conference. (El Comercio)

Baca’s charge set off a political firestorm in Quito, with assembly president Jose Serrano claiming that the taped conversation was months old and that its release was an act of revenge by the attorney general.

President Lenin Moreno said there would be a full investigation.

In the tape, Serrano and former comptroller Carlos Polit discuss the release of documents they believe will force Baca to resign. Polit, who is accused of accepting brides from Brazilian contractor Odebrecht, fled to Miami before charges against him could be filed in 2017.

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“He must be taken out of office by the end of the year,” Serrano tells Polit in the tape. “He is playing the court because he wants to be president,” he adds.

Attorney General Carlos Baca delivers his Monday morning bombshell.

“Fuck, don’t tell me,” Polit replies, before discussing the documents he claims  will end Baca’s career. The documents in question allegedly implicate Baca in an embezzlement scheme in 2010.

In his press conference, Baca claims the tape proves that there is “dark, powerful conspiracy” against him and said that he fears for the safety of his family. “If something happens to my wife, my children, or any member of my family, I hold these two collaborators responsible,” he said. “Even more important, I believe the people of this country should be aware of this conspiracy.”

During the trial of former vice president Jorge Glas, Baca said he was the target of death threats. Glass was convicted of corruption and is serving a six-year prison term.

In his afternoon response, Serrano did not deny the taped conversation but said it was out-of-date and no longer relevant. “I talk with hundreds of people about all kinds of issues,” he said. “This is my job.”

Serrano demanded to know how Baca obtained the audio recording and questioned the legality of its release. “The is a personal attack on me and an act of revenge. I demand a full investigation of this issue and whether it constitutes an abuse of authority by the attorney general.”

Members of the National Assembly appeared stunned by the allegations, most demanding an investigation of all claims. Assemblyman Roberto Gomez said Serrano should resign the presidency of the assembly immediately. “Until this is resolved, he has no credibility to lead this body,” he says. “Here he is on the tape sounding like a mafioso, on intimate terms with a criminal. He needs to step down.”

Others urged caution about rushing to conclusions. “We must be careful to separate institutional and personal issues,” said Assemblywoman Silvia Salgado.

Former presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso said the latest intrigue reinforces the need to purge the government of the influence of former president Rafael Correa. “This sorry tale, orchestrated by and between old Correistas, proves the point, once again, that we must rid ourselves of the vestiges of a sordid past. It’s time to take out the garbage.”

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