More than $700 million in earthquake relief funds were funneled through families of officials

Mar 15, 2019

An investigation by Ecuador’s Citizen Participation Council (CPCCST) has resulted in charges that $707 million earmarked for reconstruction following the 2016 coastal earthquake was channeled through companies owned by families of government officials.

Citizen Participation Council President Julio César Trujillo

In one case, according CPCCST, the former technical secretary for the reconstruction of Manabí Province delivered contracts totaling $399 million to a company partly owned by his wife, mother and brother in law.

CPCCST also claims it discovered other crimes including embezzlement, influence peddling, illicit enrichment and tax fraud that it will report to federal prosecutors. Most of the alleged crimes involved contracts with companies with family ties to officials.

Julio César Trujillo, CPCCST president, says he is “outraged” by the corruption. “After all the suffering the people of Manabí Province have endured now we discover that government employees were profiting from their misery,” he says. “Now we understand why the reconstruction project has been such a disaster and why so little has been achieved since the earthquake.”

Trujillo claims the corruption was “another sordid symptom” of the Rafael Correa presidency. “There is obviously more work to be done to clean up the mess.”

Ecuador anti-corruption secretary Marcela Estrella said the alleged corruption is responsible for extending the hardship of thousands of earthquake victims. “Many people in Manabí continue to live in tent camps without access to basic services,” she says. “Sewer and water systems have yet to be rebuilt and many communities have only limited emergency and health services.”

Estrella said she will accompany CPCCST members to the prosecutor’s office on Monday.

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