January 21, 2017 / 2:56 PM / a year ago

Peruvian police detain first suspect in Odebrecht bribe case

LIMA, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Peruvian police detained a former government official accused of taking bribes from Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht in exchange for a contract to build the Lima metro, prosecutors said on Saturday.

Edwin Luyo, who led a committee to auction off the Metro in 2009 when Alan Garcia was President, was identified thanks to information obtained from Odebrecht as part of a preliminary leniency deal, Peru’s prosecutors’ office said on Twitter.

The detention, the first involving Odebrecht in Peru, occurred on Friday night after a police operation that also raided the home of Garcia’s former vice minister of communications Jorge Cuba, who was not found, the prosecutors’ office said.

A spokeswoman said the detention was preliminary and Luyo would be released on Saturday night unless prosecutors requested and received more time from a judge.

Odebrecht, the largest construction firm in Latin America, admitted to paying bribes in 12 countries, including $29 million in Peru over the course of three presidencies, as part of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice last month.

While it is under investigation in other countries, the case is more advanced in Peru than anywhere outside of Brazil. Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczysnki has said Odebrecht should pay at least 90 million soles ($26.7 million) to settle in Peru.

Odebrecht paid $7 million to win a contract for Line 1 of Lima’s Metro, which started operating in 2011, according to Hamilton Castro, the lead Peruvian prosecutor on the case.

The Brazilian Supreme Course Justice presiding over the case that has seen dozens of high-profile executives and politicians arrested in Brazil, died in a plane crash on Thursday, just weeks before he was due to unveil explosive testimony from Odebrecht executives. (Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Caroline Stauffer, Editing by Franklin Paul)

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