Ecuador News

Leaked videos about Petroecuador scandal could destabilize presidential race

With only two weeks to go before Ecuadorians choose a new president, a series of leaked videos threaten to rearrange the country’s political landscape. In the videos, former Minister of Hydrocarbons Carlos Pareja claims that Vice President Jorge Glas “knew everything” about corruption occurring at state-owned Petroecuador.

The videos are of an interview conducted in Miami with Pareja by reporters from the Guayaquil newspaper El Expreso. The newspaper says it had nothing to do with the leaks.

Former Minister of Hydrocarbons Carlos Pareja

In addition to being President Rafael Correa’s vice president, Glas is vice presidential candidate on the Alianza País ticket with Lenin Moreno.

The national election to determine the next president and National Assembly, is Sunday February 19.

In one of the videos, Pareja is seen taking a lie detector test in which he says all decisions at Petroecuador were made with the consent of Vice President Jorge Glas. The videos were posted Friday on social media by an anonymous user going by the name “Capaya Leaks” in reference to Pareja’s nickname.

Pareja fled Ecuador for Spain in August after the Petroecuador bribery scandal was exposed in the Panama Papers. Pareja’s name appeared with 200,000 others for using foreign bank accounts, allegedly to deposit bribe money. Pareja is currently hiding out in Miami.

Moreno is not mentioned in any of the videos and Pareja has so far produced no solid evidence implicating Glas beyond his word.

Pareja allegedly taking a lie detector test.

The videos set off a frenzy of accusations and rebuttals on Friday as opponents scrambled to take advantage of the news and President Rafael Correa engaged in damage control. Correa claims the videos are a plot to destabilize the country and to damage the presidential prospects of Moreno and Jorge, as well as end the 10-year dominance of his Alianza País political party.

Correa released email correspondence between himself and Pareja purporting to show Pareja admitting to taking bribes and begging for forgiveness.

Correa is also accusing Pareja of working with Roberto and William Isaias to influence the president election. The Isaias are accused of stealing tens of millions of dollars during Ecuador’s 1999 banking crisis and are currently living under refugee status in Miami.

Thirty-nine former Petroecuador officials have been arrested as part of the $12 million bribery scandal investigation. The bribes were allegedly paid by contractors during construction work at Ecuador’s oil refinery in Esmeraldas. Pareja was personally accused of taking more than one million dollars and a warrant it out for his arrest.

In the video, Pareja says that people close to Glas, including a former top aide and Petroecuador’s current boss, Pedro Merizalde, are being protected from prosecution. “It’s clearer than water,” Pareja says in the video, in which he appears to be speaking to two journalists from a Guayaquil newspaper. “And who protects him? Jorge Glas.”

Polls show the Moreno-Glas presidential ticket with a slight edge, but not with enough support to avoid an April runoff election with one of two conservative challengers.

  • Not Chicken Little

    For some reason I am reminded of the film “Casablanca” and this dialogue from the scene when Captain Renault enters Rick’s cafe and orders it closed:

    Renault: I am shocked- shocked- to find that gambling is going on in here!

    Croupier: [hands Renault money] Your winnings, sir.

  • nards barley

    Of course the gun-shy media can only report on Correa’s denouncement and not do any actual reporting.

    • Jason Faulkner

      All of the major opposition media television stations and newspapers are reporting on this nonstop.

  • Skeptical

    A lie-detector test? There’s no evidence that they work, and especially one administrated at home.

  • Dee Dee Jackson

    ewwwww doesn’t this have CIA written all over it! Pareja hiding in Miami? and who’s making his munestra?.. who did this lie detector test and who did the video? The Company has long desired to send Alianza Pais packing.. let the games begin.

    • Paul Green

      Looks just like tje presidential election in the USA!

    • Jason Faulkner

      All fingers point back to the Isaias brothers. They’re getting desperate. They aren’t young men. If they can’t sabotage this election, they’ll never be able to come back to Ecuador nor get the Ecuadorian government to stop requesting their extradition. In the meantime, they have very nice mansions in Coral Gables purchased with the billions they stole from Ecuadorian bank account holders.

  • Jason Faulkner

    Capaya fled the country just before his indictments came down. He turned up in Spain and claimed he had no idea, that he was on vacation, that he would come back to face justice. Several months later and after several email exchanges with Correa admitting he “made a mistake” but deserves clemency because he got the refinery finished on time and on budget (seriously, that’s his defense), he has turned up in Miami despite an Interpol Red Card issued several months ago for him and his son (is that you, Senator Bob Menendez?). Several million dollars have shown up in his offshore accounts and shell companies owned by his wife, son and close associates.

    The tapes were not “leaked”, they were published. He was interviewed by 4 opposition media outlets on the same day. He underwent a polygraph (psuedoscience) administered by a polygraphist for hire who has appeared in skits on Sabado Gigante. According to his website, he accepts all major credit cards. In that polygraph he was asked several questions about whether or not Glas was involved, which he insisted was the case. Strangely, he wasn’t asked a single question about the charges against him or the millions in his accounts. The polygraphist for hire said he was being truthful. However, when he was interviewed by Janeth Hinojostra (opposition journalist), he said there’s no evidence that Glas was involved and he can’t make any accusations. El Universo (vociferous opposition newspaper) also interviewed him but refused to publish the interview because they stated, in a front page story today, that he offered no proof of his assertions and contradicted himself in a manner typical of a “fugitive trying to save himself”. The only reason they even bothered to admit they interviewed him was because Correa erroneously stated that they had published a story as part of a media show. It’s clear the Ecuadorian intelligence services have had continuous eyes on the Isaias bothers’ house for quite some time because they knew when Capaya got there and what news organizations arrived. Correa let his tongue slip on that one.

    The Isaias brothers are desperate to take down this government so that they can come back to Ecuador and recover their ill-gotten gains. Hacked emails revealed that they forced Guillermo Lasso to take on
    Andres Paez as his running mate despite the fact that Lasso hates him. They also revealed a planned media campaig in the lead up to the election, coordinated by Fernando Villavicencio, though since there are so many details they’ll probably have to scrap that idea. Capaya is their backup. They went so far as to purchase CNN Latino and fill the entire program day with the likes of Emilio Palacios, Fernando Villavicencio, Clever Jimenez and any other vendepatria they could find to sell their narrative. CNN eventually got wind of what was really happening and revoked their charter, pulling the channel off the air. It’s amazing that two criminals with billions in stolen money can remain under political asylum in the US, claiming their prosecution was political persecution even though they were tried and convicted 6 years before Correa came to power (he was a university professor at the time). They were prosecuted by a government of their own party, but that didn’t stop them from absconding with billions and obtaining asylum. Of course we know the real reason is because they paid off Sen. Bob Menendez to lobby for them. He’s currently under indictment for corruption, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the State Department.

    So the dirty campaign continues. It’s a strategy that worked well for Trump (how’s that swamp draining going?), though the dynamics are very different here. The idea of a dirty campaign is to turn voters off so that they don’t even bother to show up to the polls. Voting is required by law here so it won’t have the same effect. I still say Moreno takes it in the first round, but after the Trump win I wouldn’t be surprised by anything.

  • ChecMark

    Just one more reason to vote for Cynthia Viteri .