Scots link claimed in Peruvian bribery scandal

A former president of Peru is alleged to have benefited from a “massive” multimillion pound bribery scheme which saw more than £13 million wired to a Scotland-based firm, according to US prosecutors.

Former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo, 73, has claimed that all the US charges are politically motivated. Picture: Oscar Paredes/ AP
Former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo, 73, has claimed that all the US charges are politically motivated. Picture: Oscar Paredes/ AP

Alejandro Toledo, who governed the South American nation from 2001 to 2006, was arrested in the US in July in the wake of an extradition request from his home country, where he faces corruption charges.

It alleged he received around $25m (£19.1m) in bribes from the Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht. The 73-year-old has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and claims the charges are politically motivated.

Now a separate complaint filed with the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York details a series of allegations involving a Scottish company.

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According to prosecutors, at least $18m (£13.8m) was sent via wire transfers to the unnamed company as part of an alleged bribery scheme which saw a total of $25m in payments made to an Israeli national and businessman, who was a close friend and associate of Toledo’s. The associate has been co-operating with Peruvian authorities since August 2017 as part of their investigation.

The payments, it is alleged, were “for the benefit of Toledo,”and included what are described as “bribery payments” made between August 2016 and January 2010 from various accounts, including a bank based in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Those payments amounted to at least $18m in wire transfers, made to the Scottish firm via a Barclays account in New York.

Prosecutors say the Israeli national, listed as a co-conspirator, directed some or all of the funds received through the Scottish company – as well as two firms based in the British Virgin Islands – to another account under his control, held in the name of a Panama-registered shell company.

The 26-page-long complaint goes on to reference a May 2006 agreement apparently entered into by the Scottish company and the Panamanian-entity, entitled “mandate to enforce payment”.

The agreement, prosecutors say, claimed the Panama company had provided services to the Brazilian firm, and sought payment from the Scottish company in return. However, they allege there were no such legitimate services carried out, and the Scottish company “was merely used as a conduit” to distance Toledo’s associate from the payments from the Brazillian firm.

The complaint adds that another co-conspirator, believed to be a Peruvian national who served as Toledo’s former head of security, directed the Israeli national to transfer at least $9m of the payments received by the Scottish and Panamanian firms into Costa Rican bank accounts held by three shell companies, each of which was controlled by the ex-security official for Toledo’s benefit.

It is also alleged that the Israeli man caused approximately $1.2m (£920,000) of the payments received by the Scotland and Panama-based firms to be put towards the purchase of a house in bethesda, Maryland – again, for Toledo’s benefit.

The prosecutors also set out detailed allegations of how the property was acquired. They claim that between 16 August 2006 and 3 August 2007, the bank in St Vincent and the Grenadines made several wire transfers worth approximately $4.7m (£3.6m) to the Scottish entity’s UK Barclays bank account, via a New York-based Barclays account. All the money, it is alleged, was involved in or traceable to the bribery scheme. It is alleged that on 7 August, 2007, the UK bank account of the Scottish company transferred around $1.3m to the Swiss bank account of a Panama shell firm, before the next month the Israeli associate of Toledo wired approximately $1.2m (£920,000) from another Swiss account held in the name of another Panama shell firm to a law firm in order to pay for the US property.

The complaint has been filed as part of a civil action to forfeit approximately $639,000 (£490,000) from a Bank of America account. Prosecutors allege it was established by Toledo to launder the proceeds from the property sale as well as other funds traceable to the bribery scheme.