June 15, 2017 / 7:02 PM / a year ago

Peruvian Congress to question finance minister on airport contract

LIMA, June 15 (Reuters) - Peru’s opposition-controlled Congress called on Finance Minister Alfredo Thorne to answer questions on Thursday over a recording in which he appears to ask the comptroller’s office to approve a $520 million airport contract in exchange for a bigger budget.

Earlier this month local television station Panamericana released a recording of Thorne asking Edgar Alarcon, the head of the comptroller’s office, to greenlight the contract for Chinchero airport, near Cusco.

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s government withdrew the 40-year-operating contract on May 22 after the comptroller released an official report pointing to irregularities in the contract. Alaracon had publicly spoken of alleged irregularities prior to his conversation with Thorne.

Thorne has denied offering a quid pro quo and said his talk with Alarcon lasted nearly an hour and that there were gaps in the released recording.

Thorne is required to appear later on Thursday. Congress could vote to censure him, which could force a resignation. (Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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