Ecuadorian prosecutors Wednesday requested the pre-trial arrest of former President Lenín Moreno after the latter failed to appear before the courts as mandated in the Sinohydro corruption case, in which he is said to have accepted bribes for the construction of the country's largest hydroelectric plant.
Moreno, who works in Asunción (Paraguay) as commissioner of the Organization of American States (OAS) for Disability Affairs, should have appeared biweekly in Quito since March 20 before the National Court of Justice, pursuant to a warrant issued by Judge Adrián Rojas.
The Prosecutor's Office had requested the pre-trial detention of all the defendants in this case, except Moreno and 12 others aged over 65, but the former head of state's failure to appear periodically has led the Public Prosecutor to seek this new measure for Moreno and eight other defendants, including Moreno's wife Rocío González, and the couple's daughter Irina Moreno.
Lenín Moreno's argument for not traveling to Quito was his health.
There are 37 people of bribery in this case where the Prosecutor's Office estimates that the Chinese state-owned company Sinohydro paid around US$ 76 million in alleged bribes for the construction of the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric power plant. The events allegedly occurred when Moreno was serving as vice president during Rafael Correa's presidential term (2007-2017).
The scandal broke out in 2019, when the website La Fuente published an investigation in which one of Moreno's brothers was involved with alleged accounts in tax havens and luxurious property in Alicante (Spain), in an apparent triangulation of an opaque company. This report showed a series of links and alleged irregularities linking Moreno to the offshore company INA Investment, which led to an investigation by the Attorney General's Office.
The former ruler has denied these accusations and suggested he was set up by Correa, who resides in exile in Belgium and after being convicted in 2020 for bribery in another corruption case.