Latin America & Caribbean

Alejandro Toledo: Peru ex-president arrested in US

Former president Alejandro Toledo speaks to the media in Lima, January 27, 2011. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Alejandro Toledo was the president of Peru from 2001 to 2006

Peru's former President Alejandro Toledo has been arrested in the US, the Peruvian authorities say.

The chief prosecutor's office said his arrest was in connection with an extradition request issued in March last year.

Mr Toledo is accused of taking $20m in bribes from the Brazilian construction company, Odebrecht, during his time in office between 2001 and 2006.

He denies all the charges and says they are politically motivated.

Mr Toledo has been a visiting scholar at Stanford University, near San Francisco.

Odebrecht scandal

Odebrecht is at the centre of a multi-national corruption scandal. The company admitted, as part of a plea deal with the US justice department, to paying nearly $800m (£640m) in bribes to governments across Latin America.

That time spans the presidencies of Mr Toledo and his two successors in office, Alan Garcia and Ollanta Humala. Both denied any wrongdoing following the revelations, but Mr Garcia subsequently committed suicide.

Peruvian media reported that Odebrecht's former executive director in Peru, Jorge Barata, had accused Mr Toledo of receiving $20m in bribes in exchange for granting the firm a contract to build stretches of a highway linking Peru and Brazil.

Mr Barata is reportedly co-operating with prosecutors in his native Brazil and in Peru as part of a plea bargain.

Mr Toledo has strongly rejected the allegations, saying: "Let Mr Barata say when, how, where and to which bank he sent me $20m. I won't stand for this!"

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