politics

Ecuador’s Vice President Found Guilty in Odebrecht Corruption Case

  • VP Jorge Glas, uncle sentenced to maximum six years by court
  • Decision reflects ex-leader Rafael Correa’s dwindling power
Jorge Glas in court on Nov. 24. Photographer: Rodrigo Buendia/AFP via Getty Images

Ecuador’s Vice President Jorge Glas was found guilty by a three-judge panel at Ecuador’s top court Wednesday of "illicit association" related to a sweeping corruption probe involving Brazilian firm Odebrecht.

The National Court ruled that Glas leveraged his time as a cabinet minister and later as vice president to allow subordinates to collect bribes from Odebrecht in exchange for major public works and construction contracts. Among the eight defendants, Glas and his uncle, Ricardo Rivera, were handed maximum six-year sentences. They have the right to appeal.

The court’s decision not only completed the fall from power of the man who until May 24 oversaw the South American OPEC member’s oil, electricity, and telecommunications industries but also reflects the diminished influence of former President Rafael Correa, who came to dominate the Andean nation during a decade in power.

Correa’s chosen successor, Lenin Moreno, won election earlier this year but alienated his predecessor by charting an independent course on managing Ecuador’s oil wealth and economy to open up the schism in Correa’s Alianza Pais coalition. Moreno distanced himself from Glas soon after taking office, demoting him to running remaining reconstruction efforts from an April earthquake . Both Moreno and Glas served as vice presidents under Correa.

Moreno is pressing ahead with a referendum that, among seven questions, seeks to reintroduce term limits and give the president the temporary right to review top judicial and regulatory appointments of the Correa era.

Ecuador bonds since June have rallied, posting a total return of 15.6 percent, the best performance among 69 countries in the Bloomberg USD EM Sovereign Bond Index.

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