LIMA – A court in Lima on Wednesday rejected the request for a writ of habeas corpus filed by former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo in response to the arrest warrant issued for him for allegedly taking $20 million in bribes from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.
Toledo’s attorney, Heriberto Benitez, filed the motion on Monday, saying then that his client – who is believed to be in the United States, his main place of residence – would return to Peru if a pre-trial detention order that could put him behind bars for up to 18 months were lifted.
Benitez is a former lawmaker who himself has been a target of corruption probes in recent years.
Judge Richard Concepcion, who issued the arrest warrant, justified the decision on the grounds that Toledo no longer has strong ties to his homeland and there is no guarantee that he will voluntarily subject himself to the criminal proceedings.
Toledo, who allegedly received bribes totaling $20 million from Odebrecht in exchange for help in securing a lucrative highway contract, faces charges of influence-peddling and money laundering.
A separate court will rule Wednesday on the defense team’s challenge of the “preventive detention” order as pertains to the influence-peddling charge.
Peruvian authorities are waiting for the US to arrest Toledo before launching extradition proceedings.
Toledo is the first major Peruvian political figure to be caught up in an investigation into Odebrecht’s corrupt practices.
In December, that Salvador, Brazil-based builder and its petrochemical unit, Braskem, pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a combined total penalty of at least $3.5 billion to resolve charges with authorities in the United States, Brazil and Switzerland.
Those charges arose out of schemes that operated for more than a decade and involved the payment of some $788 million in bribes to government officials, their representatives and political parties in a number of countries.
Odebrecht paid roughly $29 million in bribes in Peru between 2005 and 2014, according to US court documents
Three Peruvian presidents were in office over that time period: Toledo, who governed from 2001 to 2006; Alan Garcia, in office from 2006 to 2011; and Ollanta Humala, who ruled from 2011 to 2016.