LIMA – A group of opposition lawmakers from across Peru’s political spectrum on Friday filed a motion in Congress seeking the president’s impeachment.
That proposal calls for a declaration of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s “permanent moral incapacity” due to his failure to disclose payments made by Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht to a company he owned.
The head of the opposition-controlled unicameral legislature, Luis Galarreta, said Friday’s session would be extended so lawmakers can debate and vote on the motion. He also added that Kuczynski had been notified of the new development.
The initial vote on whether to accept the impeachment motion is scheduled for Friday and requires the backing of just 40 percent of the legislature’s 130 members, 71 of whom belong to the Keiko Fujimori-led, right-wing Popular Force party that are helping to spearhead the process.
The next step in the proceedings would be the formal impeachment debate, which has been scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 21.
In support of their impeachment drive, lawmakers also on Friday presented Kuczynski’s written statements to the congressional committee investigating alleged bribe-making by Odebrecht to win public contracts in Peru.
In those statements, the president denies having received money from Odebrecht even though that opposition-chaired committee said Wednesday it had received documents from the company showing it paid Kuczynski’s financial-consulting business, Westfield Capital Ltd., more than $782,000 between 2004 and 2007.
During those years, Kuczynski served as economy minister and prime minister in the Cabinet of former President Alejandro Toledo, who was in office from 2001 to 2016.
Kuczynski on Thursday refused to step down despite mounting pressure from the opposition.
“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,” he wrote on Twitter.
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 is the latest major Peruvian political figure to find himself in legal hot water.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Toledo, who is accused of awarding Odebrecht a major highway project in exchange for $20 million. Toledo, who denies wrongdoing, is a fugitive from justice who is currently living in the United States.
Kuczynski’s predecessor, Ollanta Humala, and his wife have been jailed on charges they accepted illegal campaign donations from Odebrecht.
Odebrecht and Sao Paulo-based petrochemical company Braskem reached a settlement last December with the US Department of Justice in which they pleaded guilty to paying $788 million in bribes to government officials around the world.
The companies 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 arising out
of those schemes.