LIMA, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Peru put former president Alejandro Toledo on its list of the country’s most wanted criminals on Friday after a judge issued an international warrant over allegations he took $20 million in bribes from Brazilian builder Odebrecht.
The interior ministry offered 100,000 soles ($30,000) for any information leading to his capture and urged Interpol to quickly issue a red alert to help find him.
“Anyone in the world who can help us find him can claim the reward,” Interior Minister Carlos Basombrio said on local TV station Canal N.
“Peru doesn’t deserve to see another president flee justice,” Basombrio added.
Toledo rose to power denouncing widespread corruption in the government of his predecessor Alberto Fujimori, who fled to Japan amid a far-reaching graft inquiry in 2000. Fujimori is now serving a 25-year sentence in Peru for corruption and human rights abuses committed during his decade-long authoritarian rule.
Toledo has not been convicted of any crimes but a judge ruled Thursday that evidence uncovered so far merited jailing him for up to 18 months while influence peddling and money laundering charges are prepared against him.
Toledo has denied wrongdoing and was last known to be in France, which has an extradition treaty with Peru.
Toledo’s lawyer Heriberto Benitez did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday. On Thursday he had told reporters Toledo was outside Peru but would not say where, citing a confidentiality agreement with his client.
After the judge’s decision late on Thursday, Benitez said he would recommend Toledo not return to Peru because of a justice system he called “vindictive.”
Some Peruvians have speculated that Toledo might have traveled to Israel, where his longtime friend, Israeli businessman Yosef Maiman, is believed to live.
Israel does not have an extradition treaty with Peru.
Prosecutors allege Toledo made a pact with Odebrecht to help it win two lucrative highway contracts in exchange for bribes he asked to be deposited in the accounts of offshore companies controlled by Maiman. Some $10 million in transfers from Odebrecht to Maiman’s companies have been traced.
Maiman has not responded to requests for comment. (Reporting By Mitra Taj; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)