Prosecutors seek 35-year jail term for former Peruvian president over Odebrecht scandal

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has been accused of money laundering and creating a criminal enterprise that received millions in bribes from the construction company

Renzo Gómez Vega
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski
Former Peruvian president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, during his arrest in 2019.LUKA GONZALES (AFP)

Peruvian prosecutors are seeking a 35-year prison sentence for the South American country’s former president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who is alleged to have received millions of dollars in bribes from the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.

Kuczynski is claimed to have given preferential treatment to Odebrecht in the awarding of several public works contracts when he was Peru’s finance minister, during the 2001-2006 presidency of Alejandro Toledo. According to prosecutors, the bribes were paid to “PKK”, as he is commonly known, through the former Wall Street banker’s financial consultancy companies.

Kuczynski, who resigned as president over the scandal in 2018, less than two years after being elected, was placed under pre-trial house arrest in 2019, before being granted conditional release in 2022. Now 84, he has suffered from failing health as the investigation into the case has progressed. In 2019, heart issues saw him fitted with a pacemaker. A year later, he had to be treated for chronic sinusitis, and in 2022 he was admitted to hospital with pneumonia.

In light of Kuczynski’s poor state of health, his daughter, Alexandra Kuczynski, has said her father “would not be able to survive in prison,” concluding: “It would be a death sentence for him.”

On Friday, a special team of prosecutors working on the Odebrecht corruption investigation, known as Operation Car Wash, requested 35-year jail terms both for Kuczynski – who is accused of money laundering and creating a criminal enterprise that received $12 million in bribes from Odebrecht – and Gerardo Sepúlveda, Kuczynski’s Chilean former business partner.

The prosecution is also seeking a 23-year custodial sentence for Kuczynski’s ex-secretary, Gloria Kisic, and 11 years and six months in prison for his former driver, José Luis Bernaola.

Speaking on Friday, Julio Midolo, Kuczynski’s lawyer, insisted that his client remains confident of clearing his name. “Mr Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has been informed of the latest developments,” Midolo said. “He is quite calm and is convinced that we are going to prove his complete innocence at the end of all of this. Our defense remains the same as it was at the beginning […]. They do not have any evidence to show that there was money laundering.”

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