May 17, 2017 / 7:36 PM / 4 months ago

Peru ex-governor, lawyer arrested over ties to Odebrecht bribes

LIMA, May 17 (Reuters) - A former Peruvian governor suspected of arranging bribes from Odebrecht was arrested on Wednesday, while police raided Lima law firms thought to have ties to the Brazilian construction company, the attorney general’s office said.

Prosecutors said Jorge Acurio, former governor of the Cusco region, coordinated the payment of $3 million in bribes from Odebrecht to favor the company in a public works contract. He became the second governor in Peru accused of wrongdoing in the wide-ranging corruption scandal.

Odebrecht has admitted to paying $29 million in bribes to win contacts in Peru, one of 12 countries where it confessed to payoffs as part of a settlement with U.S., Brazilian and Swiss prosecutors.

“There’s nothing,” Acurio told reporters after being arrested on Wednesday.

The attorney general’s office said via Twitter that the arrests of Acurio and Lima lawyer Jose Francisco Zaragoza Amiel took place during simultaneous raids in six buildings in Lima and five in Cusco.

Zaragoza is a partner at financial law firm Rebaza, Alcazar & De Las Casas, according to the firm’s website.

The attorney general’s office said Zaragoza acted as an intermediary between Odebrecht and Acurio.

Local television showed Zaragoza declining to answer reporters’ questions, except to say he did not know Acurio, while being led out of the law firm’s offices in Lima’s financial district in handcuffs.

The attorney general’s office can hold suspects for 48 hours and then must petition a judge to hold them longer. (Reporting by Teresa Cespedes, Marco Aquino and Luc Cohen; Editing by Caroline Stauffer and Jeffrey Benkoe)

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