Peru ex-leader Toledo on lam amid graft charges


LIMA: Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski on Sunday urged his US counterpart Donald Trump to consider sending fugitive ex-Peruvian leader Alejandro Toledo—believed to be in the United States—back to Peru on graft charges.

The net appeared to be closing around Toledo, as Israel said it would refuse entry to the former leader accused of taking bribes from Brazil’s Odebrecht construction giant.

“President Kuczynski has asked Donald Trump to evaluate… with the State Department the idea of sending Toledo back to Peru,” where he is wanted on charges of taking $20 million in bribes while in office, state news agency Andina reported.

However, the United States said it could not arrest Toledo until it received more information on the case against him, according to Peruvian officials, who were rushing to send investigation documents to their US counterparts.

A White House readout of a call between Kuczynski and Trump did not mention Toledo.

Instead, it said the pair discussed the “humanitarian situation” and other concerns in Venezuela, and “the need to promote democratic governance throughout the Western Hemisphere.”

The White House hinted at a future meeting between the two leaders.

Israel alerted
Toledo, once hailed as an anti-corruption champion, is accused of taking a huge payoff from Odebrecht in exchange for a massive highway contract connecting Peru and Brazil during his 2001-2006 presidency.

Peruvian police launched a manhunt for him after a judge ordered his arrest Thursday night. There is a $30,000 reward out for information leading to his capture.

Peruvian authorities believe Toledo, 70, is in the US city of San Francisco, where he is a visiting professor at nearby Stanford University.

The Peruvian government has indicated that Toledo might try to flee to Israel, where his wife, French-born Elaine Karp, is a citizen.

“We heard from a solid source that he was trying to flee to Israel. So we alerted Israel,” Interior Minister Carlos Basombrio said on RPP Radio.

But Israel blocked any such effort by Toledo.

“Toledo will be allowed in Israel only when his affairs in Peru are settled,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in a statement.

Kuczynski thanked Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not allowing in Toledo, the Peruvian president’s office said.

Peru’s authorities have a warrant for Toledo to be detained and held in preventive custody for 18 months pending a full investigation.

He is accused of influence peddling and money laundering.

At the moment, Toledo could leave the United States, since the US has not yet received the documents on which the warrant is based, according to Basombrio.

Israel’s foreign ministry later said he was not aboard a flight from San Francisco that landed at the country’s main international airport late Sunday.

Toledo denies the accusations against him, branding them political persecution. But he has struggled to explain the source of the money.



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