Quito Judge Ana Cristina Guerrón ordered pre-trial detention for Cuenca businessman Juan Pablo Eljuri Tuesday for his alleged role in the Odebrecht corruption case.
Guerrón also ordered the seizure of all Eljuri property in Ecuador and a freeze on his bank accounts.
According to prosecutor Diana Salazar, Eljuri is being investigated for receiving money from the Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht through the South American International Bank (Sai Bank) based on the Caribbean island of Curaçao, of which he is an owner. Salazar says those funds were then paid as bribes to Ecuadorian officials who handled Odebrecht contracts. She said her investigation identified several Odebrecht representatives who made deposits at the bank.
According to court authorities, Eljuri left Ecuador for Colombia on August 24 and is believed to be staying at a family property on Curaçao, off the Venezuelan coast.
Eljuri’s attorney Emiliano Donoso called the charges “bogus” and said there is no evidence linking his client to bribery payments. “All activities at Sai Bank involved the purchase and sale of investment portfolios,” he said. “There was no illegal activity and certainly no connection to the Odebrecht corruption.”
Donoso asked the judge to reconsider the detention order for Eljuri and said a freeze on his bank accounts would affect 16 businesses that he operates in Ecuador and Colombia.
The Cuenca-based Eljuris are considered the richest family in Ecuador and one of the richest in Latin America.