QUITO – On Sunday, an Ecuadorian judge granted the prosecution’s plea to charge former president Lenin Moreno with corruption concerning a deal for a hydroelectric facility in the South American country built by the Chinese. Moreno is connected to the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric project according to the 37-person indictment, which also claims that the defendants accepted payments of up to $76 million as part of a corruption scheme that ran between 2009 and 2018. Moreno briefly served as vice president under Rafael Correa’s administration during that time, denied wrongdoing last month, and claimed he had no involvement in the complex’s construction’s contracting process.
Following the hearing on Sunday, Moreno tweeted that the Attorney General’s Office’s arguments were “arbitrary and brutal.”As a preventative measure, Judge Adrian Rojas ruled that Moreno must appear before the National Court of Justice every 15 days. After the hearing, the Attorney General’s Office tweeted that Moreno and the other defendants would be brought to justice “for their alleged involvement in the bribery crime. The prosecutor’s office continued, “The biggest amount prosecuted for crimes of corruption in Ecuador” was allegedly paid in the claimed bribes.
Moreno, who presided over Ecuador from 2017 to 2021, now resides in Paraguay and holds the position of Commissioner for Disability Issues for the Organization of American States (OAS). The $2.245 billion hydroelectric project connected to the case was constructed by the Chinese corporation Sinohydro.
China has not reacted to a plea for help in the case, according to Diana Salazar, the attorney general of Ecuador, who stated this last month.
A request for comment was sent through email to Sinohydro but has yet to receive a response. (Drazen Jorgic and Muralikumar Anantharaman edited the report; Alexandra Valencia reported in Quito, and Marion Giraldo in Mexico City.)