US to Extradite Ex-Peruvian President to Face Corruption Charges

Published: 24 February 2023

Alejandro Toledo 2015 croppedFormer President of Peru, Alejandro Toledo. (Photo: Kristian George/San Francisco Foghorn, Wikimedia, License)

By Vinicius Madureira

The U.S. State Department has approved the extradition of former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo who is in his home country suspected of bribery linked to a corruption scandal involving Brazilian-based construction company Odebrecht S.A., Peru’s attorney general’s office said on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru welcomed the decision, noting that it is “a recognition of the full validity of the institutions in Peru, as well as the independence of the justice system, and the firm commitment of Peru in the fight against corruption and impunity.”

Toledo was the president of Peru from 2001 to 2006. His government initiated the construction of the Peru-Brazil Southern Interoceanic Highway, which spans across the two countries.

According to Peruvian investigators, Toledo asked for a bribe of US$35 million and eventually received $20 million. He then instructed this money to be laundered through multiple companies and offshore accounts.

The U.S. government requested the U.S. Northern District Court of California to revoke the bail order for Toledo so that he can be returned to prison and handed over to the Peruvian authorities. He spent eight months in a U.S. prison before being placed under house arrest following the outbreak of the pandemic.

The prosecutor for the Odebrecht, also known as Lava Jato, case in Peru, Silvana Carrión, explained that the U.S. did not specify a deadline for the extradition, but that she expects it to be imminent.

In the coming days or hours, “the government should agree on how Toledo will return to Peru and face the serious charges against him,” local media cited lawyer Ivan Meini.

According to the coordinating prosecutor for Lava Jato, Rafael Vela, Toledo is under investigation for the alleged receipt of a bribe of tens of millions from Odebrecht in exchange for favoring them in the bidding process for the concession of two sections of the Interoceanic Highway, which connects Brazil to the Pacific Ocean through Peru.

Toledo has appealed to a series of legal resources to prevent his extradition to Peru, but his actions were denied by the court which had been trying him since 2019.

The Prosecutor’s Office has requested more than 20 years of prison for Toledo.