A corruption scandal in Ecuador splashes the circle close to President Lasso | International

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Guillermo Lasso, last week in Davos.Markus Schreiber (AP)

The departure of the Anti-Corruption Secretary of the Government of Guillermo Lasso was a surprise. It happened minutes before he left the journalists standing and an empty chair at the press conference that had been called in which his representative, Luis Verdesoto, would explain details of a report made by the organization in which he raises seven hypotheses about how it is configured corruption in four state oil, telecommunications and electricity companies that would touch several Ecuadorian government officials.

One of them is Hernán Luque, who was appointed by the president himself as his delegate for the administration of EMCO, the coordinator of public companies, who left office in October 2022. Luque is not an unknown character for Lasso, because he held several high-ranking positions at the Banco de Guayaquil, in which the president was the main shareholder.

The first indications of irregularities became known on January 6 through the publication of some audios that would reveal an alleged network of corruption in state companies that puts Hernán Luque at the center of the network. But 14 days later, the Prosecutor's Office opened an investigation that he called a case Meetingalluding to slogan that the Government used and that has now changed it to only Government of Ecuador.

In the audios, Luque talks with Leonardo Cortázar -who would be the informer of the recordings- and admitted in an interview to the digital media The post who plays the role of operator and lobbyist for contracts and irregular management of charges in the state electricity company (Cnel). In one of the leaks, a conversation between the two about how to manage the other public company that is in charge of oil freight (Flopec) is exposed. Luque asks that his part be "150,000 dollars a month, deposited in an account in Andorra." The President of the Republic acknowledged in an interview that the voice corresponds to that of Hernán Luque.

In these audios, Danilo Carrera, Lasso's brother-in-law, is also mentioned as the head of the alleged corruption plot in public companies, who has denied any participation and has announced a lawsuit against the journalist who revealed the information. "The position of brother-in-law of the President of the Republic has never existed, does not exist and will never exist in this government," the president said on national television. "That he assumes his responsibilities," he added, referring to his brother-in-law. "My obligation is to defend the integrity of my government." A few days before, Lasso had defended him: "Danilo Carrera is an honorable and blameless man."

To the government It has been difficult for him to maintain a clear reaction on the subject. Luque resigned from the position of manager of public companies in October 2022; However, in December, when the president was asked why the official left the administration, he responded curtly: "People resign and want to leave and want to change their position, what can I do?" However, in his last intervention on January 22, he said that "he left the government because he did not feel confidence in him."

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The president ordered the Anti-Corruption Secretary -appointed by the Executive- to investigate the alleged corruption plot, but he resigned minutes before exposing the report, of which the Government has rejected the conclusions. The case Meeting has left eight raids by the State Prosecutor's Office, an earthquake of resignations in 13 public companiesa new front with the opposition in the Assembly that formed a commission to investigate the alleged network of corruption and the main suspect, Hernán Luque, whose whereabouts are unknown.

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