Facing Corruption Charges, Ecuador’s Lenín Moreno to Request Asylum

By Dubraska Esteves on March 7, 2023

The former president of Ecuador Lenín Moreno confirmed that he will request political asylum in Paraguay in the midst of the legal proceedings opened against him for the “Sinohydro” case. Ecuador’s courts named the former president, his wife, and more than 30 others as perpetrators in a corruption plot that was orchestrated from 2009 to 2018.

Through a televised interview, Moreno said that he is consulting with his lawyers on the steps required to process a request for asylum. However, he indicated that “in principle, yes,” he will request asylum in Paraguay, the nation where he currently lives, and from where he fulfills his duties as current disability affairs commissioner with the Organization of American States (OAS), headquartered in Washington, DC.

Moreno does not want to set foot in Ecuador

Although the State Attorney General’s Office (FGE) requested preventive detention for 23 of the defendants and house arrest for the remaining 14 (over 65 years of age), including Moreno, the national judge Luis Adrián Rojas ordered alternative measures.

The former president and his wife, Rocío González, who is also involved in the corruption plot, were ordered to appear every 15 days at the Secretariat of the National Court of Justice of Ecuador.

Regarding this measure, which would force the ex-president to travel repeatedly from Asunción to Quito, Moreno expressed his concern about the “mistreatment” that these trips would cause him.

Initially, Ecuador’s FGE filed charges against Moreno and 36 others for their ties to the Sinohydro case, known in the media as the “Ina Papers” case. In addition to Moreno and his wife, other family members and close associates under investigation include his daughter Ina Moreno, his brothers, Edwin and Guillermo, his sisters-in-law Jaquelina V. and Martha G., his friends Conto Patiño and Xavier Macías, and Cai Runguo, former Chinese ambassador in Ecuador, who also worked as manager of the Sinohydro company.

The procedure was opened in 2019, almost two years after the beginning of Moreno’s presidency. Those involved received close to $76 million in bribes. The investigations indicate that when Moreno held the position of vice president, he facilitated a concession to Sinohydro for the construction of a hydroelectric plant.

These amounts, Attorney General of Ecuador Diana Salazar explained, would have been collected through third parties under the cover of false consultancy and representation services and channeled through the offshore company Recorsa, whose legal representative was Conto Patiño, a lobbyist and Sinohydro contractor in Ecuador.

Of that amount, $660,000 is alleged to have ended up in the hands of Moreno and his close family circle: $220,000 for him and his wife, 50,000 for his daughter Irina, $350,000 for Edwin Moreno, brother of the former president, 10,000 for his other brother Guillermo, $25,000 for his sisters-in-law Jacqueline V. and Martha G., and $5,000 for his mother-in-law Aída Graciela.

The family of Conto Patiño and collaborators would have received around $44 million, of which $20 million ended up in the hands of his daughter María Auxiliadora.

Source: RedRadioVE, translation Orinoco Tribune