LIMA – Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski refused on Thursday to step down despite mounting pressure from the opposition over accusations that he received payments from under fire Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.
The Lava Jato corruption scandal has intensified in Peru after a congressional commission investigating the case said on Wednesday that a company owned by Kuczynski had received payments from Odebrecht.
“It cost us a lot to get our democracy back. We’re not going to lose it again. I am not going to give up my honor, nor my values, nor my responsibilities as president of all Peruvians,” Kuczynski wrote on Twitter.
In a televised address, Kuczynski said he would not be intimidated by the opposition’s threat of impeachment if he does not tender his resignation.
“I am not going to let myself be intimidated. I am an honest man and have been that all my life. I am ready to defend the truth before the Lava Jato commission, and before the prosecution,” the president said.
Flanked by his cabinet ministers, the president also urged the authorities to lift his banking secrecy and scrutinize his accounts in order to prove his innocence.
According to the Lava Jato commission, Kuczynski’s company Westfield Capital received more than $782,000 in consultancy fees during 2004-07, a period when he was the minister of economy and the prime minister in the government of Alejandro Toledo.
Kuczynski had previously denied carrying out any type of consultancy work for Odebrecht, but on Saturday admitted that he worked as an advisor through the company First Capital for a firm which was part of the Odebrecht group.
Kuczynski’s presidency hangs in the balance as the opposition in the congress, led by the Popular Force party, almost unanimously agreed on Thursday to ask for his resignation or start impeachment proceedings due to his alleged links with Odebrecht.
The President of the Congress, Luis Galarreta, of Popular Force, said that the house would discuss the president’s speech on Friday.
Operation Lava Jato (Portuguese for “Car Wash”) is a wide-ranging criminal inquiry into corruption at Brazilian state-run energy company Petrobras, which has also implicated several high-level politicians and business leaders, including the CEO of Odebrecht.