President Lenin Moreno ordered his ministers to conduct top-to-bottom personnel reviews of their departments to “root out lingering vestiges of corruption from the government.” The Wednesday order follows what he calls strong evidence that the escape of former communication secretary Fernando Alvarado was assisted by government employees loyal to ex-president Rafael Correa.
Alvarado, wanted on 11 counts of misuse of government funds, removed an electronic ankle monitor on Friday and fled the country. He is believed to be in Venezuela where he says he has been granted political asylum.
Moreno said that many of the government staff responsible for corruption in the previous government remain on the job. “The crimes in the power plants, in refineries, in health, in telecommunications, in education, in the Internal Revenue Service (SRI) and in public works, were facilitated by people loyal to the old regime and they must be taken off the government payroll and, in some cases, brought to justice,” he said.
He added: “The people have told us that their top priority is the elimination of corruption from government and I have pledged to get the job done.”
Minister of Justice Paúl Granda, a former cabinet member in the Correa administration, says that a “Correista mafia” within his department helped Alvarado escape. On Tuesday, Granda offered to resign but Moreno refused to accept it. Granda says he has fired 20 employees since the escape and says most were in “middle management” positions.
It was Granda who first urged Moreno to “cleanse” the government of corrupt officials left over from the Correa government. “I am afraid that what I discovered in my ministry is the case throughout the government,” Granda said. “Many of those who advanced the causes of corruption in the past remain on the job, assisting those who have been accused and convicted. We must get rid of those swindlers and we must do it quickly.”