Ecuador News

Wanted on bribery charges, ex-energy minister surrenders in Quito; Correa suggests that the arrest is ‘political’

Former Ecuador energy minister Carlos Pareja Yannuzzelli surrendered to police Friday night at the Quito airport. Facing a five-year prison sentence for corruption, Pareja fled Ecuador in late September 2016 and has been living in Miami.

Former energy minister Carlos Pareja Yannuzzelli

The surrender was negotiated by National Assembly Speaker José Serrano and Interior Minister Diego Fuentes, who accompanied Pareja on a flight from Miami.

“We have informed President Lenin Moreno that Mr. Pareja agreed to turn himself in without conditions,” Serrano said at the Quito airport. “The former minister is now in custody and his case is in the hands of the prosecutor.”

Moreno thanked Serrano for his intermediary role in returning Pareja to Ecuador. “Through his (Serrano’s) efforts, the voluntary surrender of Mr. Pareja has been arranged and I thank the president of the assembly for his hard work in bringing this issue to a conclusion.”

Pareja was wanted for crimes of bribery, illicit enrichment, organized crime, embezzlement and money laundering committed during his tenure as manager of Ecuador’s hydrocarbons sector. Many of the crimes are related to construction contracts at the Esmeraldas oil refinery. He and 11 others were charged with receiving bribes of $44.7 million. In February, he was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison.

The return of Pareja set off a late-night firestorm on social media among supporters of Vice President Jorge Glas. Former president Rafael Correa suggested in a Tweet that the government’s handling of the arrest was politically motivated, aimed at generating new corruption charges against Glas. While he was in exile, Paraja claimed that Glas was personally involved in corruption at Petroecuador, the government-owned oil company.

“Can we now expect a new barrage of infamies against the vice president in exchange for ‘protection’ for Pareja?” Correa asked. He also questioned Serrano’s role in bringing the defendant back to Ecuador, suggesting it was inappropriate.

According to federal prosecutor Carlos Baca, Pareja is being held in the social rehabilitation center in Quito.

  • guest

    “Pareja is being held in the social rehabilitation center in Quito.” What is that some kind of country club? Give me a break, the guy has been found guilty, ran away with the cash, returns to snitch out the vp, and is too good for a jail like the rest of the people of Ecuador that he stole the money from? This is wrong!

    • Karen Lynn Kennedy

      They have this thing here now…they(the human rights activists in favor of better treatment of criminals) don’t say “carcel” now because it “affects the feelings of those who have been deprived of their freedom”…those inclined to this “politically correct speech” fail to recognize that convicts are “deprived” of their freedom because they committed crimes. Never mind that the rest of us law-abiding folk don’t want the criminals free….(I am not saying I am in favor of cruel and unusual punishment either…I just like to say jail is jail, not a social rehab center. Most jails don’t rehab anyone).

      • guest

        Karen, I like the phrase or description, “The Greybar Hotel!” lol

      • Ivan Antonio Sanchez Vera

        That’s correct Karen, those centers are suppose to rehabilitate people in order to make them better members of society (Goal is to provide a neat reinsertion I’m society once they are realeased). Jail conditions in Ecuador have improved in the last 10 years, however those centers are still unable to fullfil their mission. We call them the university of crime, cause inmates sometimes turn out worse, learning more ways to commit crimes (scaling the offense to more dangerous threats). There are good counselors in some jails, who try to provide means of personal development to the inmates, but the resources are scarce and the number of social workers is pretty low in comparison to the number of inmates, so the results of counseling is not very effective in some cases.

        • Karen Lynn Kennedy

          Very true…my husband works with a program here in Cuenca, but there is a lot to do, and not enough support, many times, but we have to start somewhere. Ensuring a more stable childhood(note: the basic childhood necessities don’t really come with technological “toys”, they comes with lots of love, discipline and responsibility taught at an early age) that could mitigate the urge for a life of crime….we need to lower the number of disfunctional families.

    • Ivan Antonio Sanchez Vera

      Social rehab centers is an euphemism for jail, more like living in hell if you have no contacts. For a guy like that it means a nice cell with t.v., good food, other non violent inmates as partners, no harassment and probably even an internet connection.

      • Karen Lynn Kennedy

        You are probably right…

  • StillWatching

    This seems pretty transparent. Pareja was shielding Glas who was in turn, shielding Correa. Correa hand picked Glas to remain as VP in order to continue providing cover for the whole corrupt house of cards, which is now collapsing. Moreno seems to have the integrity to prosecute the crooks and let the chips fall where they may. faulkner is now in exile and is scratching his head about who to defend, but beth will be along any minute to defend the remaining AP crooks that are still on the take. I just hope she gives me my green Lenin T-Shirt before it is seized as material evidence.

    • StillAlive

      Unfortunately there are people in this world whose loyalty to a political party or cult of personality is greater than their loyalty to the country in which they reside.

      • StillWatching

        Boy, did you ever nail that…

      • Rebecca

        Don’t we know it!

    • Thomas Anderson

      To me it was always obvios that keeping Glas on as VP was done for the purpose of keeping the Correa era secrets under wraps. I’m surprised that you seem to be the first person who has mentioned it, you would think it would be common knowledge. It also goes against the spirit of the democratic process for the last VP of a decade long presidency to remain in the VP position.

      • StillWatching

        Your hindsight is spot on and while I have suspected this for a while, I like to have a bit of empirical evidence before I make such claims. I think we have that evidence now.

        • Karen Lynn Kennedy

          Ditto… I might add that this has occurred to many people, but up till now, no-one has felt safe enough to voice that opinion.

          • StillWatching

            Political correctness prevents many people from speaking their mind. Political correctness isn’t a social disease that I’m afflicted with.

  • StillAlive

    I have always found the president of the assembly–José Serrano– to be a pretty shrewd and principled guy, and to a certain extent his own man, unlike most of the sheep in AP. I hope I am right.

    • StillWatching

      I hope you are right too. My loyalty is to the country…

    • stevem

      You are wrong. Correa, Serrano, Moreno, Glas. All innocent or all guilty? Somebody wanted 15% coima and his surname didn’t begin with C, S or G.

  • Katheryn

    Another crook taking bribes. Oh what a surprise (not) and disappointment. Taking bribes, lobbying (just another word for bribery), grand scale ponzi schemes and the list goes on as well as all of this is going on everywhere. Hopefully, the new Pres. is an honorable man and will do his best to try and clean up the corruption. Do you think that the new US Pres. is cleaning up the corruption and dishonesty. HaHaHaHaHa. Same old story different day different place.

    • stevem

      “Hopefully …. will do his best …” blah blah – hope is easily misplaced. Loyalty too. Once Correa is backed into a corner expect a ferocious attack that will implicate all.

      • Katheryn

        Sorry you are someone without hope. Must make life feel pretty empty.

      • Karen Lynn Kennedy

        Rather like the fiery dragons of lore…it will be all hell breaking loose when whoever decides to open the can of worms actually does it, lots and lots of worms and then fire and brimstone….