A Pichincha Province court ruled Friday that Cuenca businessman Juan Pablo Eljuri does not need to be jailed as he awaits trial on charges of participating in the Odebrecht bribery scandal. A three-judge panel reversed an earlier order for pre-trial detention.
The judges ruled that Eljuri does not represent a flight risk but ordered that he be fitted with an electronic surveillance ankle device when he returns to the country. He is currently at a family estate on the Caribbean island of Curaçao.
On September 11, a Quito judge ordered the pre-trial jailing of Eljuri based on evidence presented by federal prosecutor Diana Salazar. The judge also ordered the seizure of some of his property in Ecuador and a freeze on his bank accounts. The Cuenca-based Eljuri family owns hundreds of businesses in Latin America and is considered one of the wealthiest families in Latin America.
According to Salazar, Eljuri is under investigation for receiving money from the Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht through the South American International Bank (Sai Bank) on Curaçao, of which he is part-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.
Salazar objected to Friday’s ruling, arguing that pre-trial detention is justified based on the evidence.
Eljuri’s lawyer, Juan Torres, applauded the ruling but said he will not be satisfied until all charges are dropped. “The order to jail was unnecessary and insulting,” he said. “We look forward to the trial when my client’s name can be cleared entirely.” Torres maintains that Eljuri was unaware of Odebrecht funds flowing through Sai Bank.
Friday’s court ruling requires that Eljuri appear at the Ministry of Justice within eight days to be outfitted with the surveillance device.