Ecuador’s former attorney general, Galo Chiriboga, was taken into custody Monday morning and questioned for more than eight hours by federal prosecutors in the Petroecuador and Odebrecht bribery scandals. No details were released about why Chiriboga was detained although news sources reported that it was because of new information provided by former Ecuador energy minister Carlos Pareja, who is serving a prison term in Quito.
Chiriboga headed up the corruption investigations at Petroecuador and Odebrecht during the administration of former president Rafael Correa and had been criticized for allegedly allowing several suspects to leave the country while they were being investigated.
According to Ecuador Interior Minister César Navas, Chiriboga was planning to travel to Colombia when he was taken into custody at the Quito international airport. Following his release from the prosecutor’s office, however, Chiriboga angrily denied that he planned to leave the country and said he was at the airport to drop off his daughter who was traveling to see her aunt.
“I have not left nor do I have any intention of leaving until this matter is resolved,” he said. “I will be here as long as the judicial system requires me to.”
Although he offered no details of the conversation, Attorney General Carlos Baca confirmed that he had interviewed Pareja who was arrested Friday night when he arrived in Quito from Miami. Pareja was sentenced in absentia to a five-year prison term for accepting bribes on Petroecuador contracts.
Sources told the El Universo newspaper that Chiriboga’s detention is related to new information provided by Pareja.
In a video tape made last year in Miami, Pareja claimed that illegal payments had been made to Chiriboga and former Comptroller Carlos Pólit, who has since fled the country and is living in Miami. Recent investigations have confirmed that Pólit may have received bribes from federal contracts.
Pareja also implicated Vice President Jorge Glas in the tapes made in Miami.
Without referring directly to the latest developments in the corruption investigations, President Lenin Moreno wrote Monday on his Twitter account: “As my mother used to say, ‘The closer you get to the truth, the more nervous the guilty ones become’.”