Ecuadorian businessman says he was required a million dollars to pay for works

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QUITO (Sputnik) – One of the defendants in a bribery case involving former President Rafael Correa (2007-2017) said that in 2013 he was required a million dollars to take over a work for which his company had been selected.

“A message arrived from the government dome (…) One million dollars were required,” said Pedro Verduga, owner of the construction company Equitesa, during his testimony.

According to Verduga’s testimony, the million was required so that he can access the payment of the contract works of the Multipurpose Chone project.
The message would have been received through the then Secretary of Water, Walter Solís, who would have told him that the provision came from Vice President Jorge Glas; of the Minister of Transportation, María de los Ángeles Duarte; of the secretary of the Public Administration, Vinicio Alvarado, and of the legal secretary of the Presidency, Alexis Mera, prosecuted for alleged bribery in the case.

Verduga said he never delivered cash, that payments were made through the payrolls that were canceled, and that the million dollar payment was not completed.

“You paid date by date, time by time, through the forms (invoices) that were issued,” Verduga said.
Another case in which he would have been asked for money was for payroll pending collection for work done in the province of Manabí (west).
According to the businessman, Pamela Martínez, at that time adviser to the Presidency, would have requested a previous contribution for the payment.

“He was between a rock and a hard place,” said Verduga.

According to the Office of the Prosecutor of the Nation, Duarte and Solís managed the alleged payment of bribes through the crossing of invoices for around $ 895,000, between 2013 and 2014, and cash deliveries for $ 130,000.

The investigations of the Prosecutor’s Office determined that, between July 16, 2012 and November 18, 2013, Equitesa received the award of 17 contracts with the Ministry of Public Works.

On Wednesday, after giving his testimony, Verduga requested to take advantage of the right to silence and did not answer the questions of the Prosecutor.
Meanwhile, businessman Teodoro Calle, of the General Technical Construction Company (TGC), said that seven of the nine contracts related to the case were granted through payment agreements and complementary contracts.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, this confirms his theory that non-regular figures were used to award works.

The Prosecutor’s Office maintains that Minister Duarte managed with TGC the payment of $ 266,261 of alleged bribes for the period from January 3, 2014 to February 11, 2014, and cash deliveries for $ 30,000.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, between March 2, 2012 and December 20, 2013 the company received the award of 14 contracts with the Ministry of Public Works.
Calle also requested the right to silence.
Within the case, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Office of the Prosecutor of Ecuador accuse Correa and his former vice president, Jorge Glas (currently in prison for corruption linked to the Odebrecht company), for leading, from the Executive, an institutionalized corruption system and a network formed by senior ex-officials of his government and several businessmen who gave money to the official Alliance Country party in exchange for public works contracts.

The alleged illegal contributions would add up to 7.8 million dollars.

Correa and his former officials deny the accusations and say they are persecuted politicians.

In the case, 21 people are tried by bribery, including Correa, several of his senior officials and private entrepreneurs.

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