Peruvian President Kuczynski resigns amid corruption scandal
Posted March 21, 2018 4:22 p.m. EDT
(CNN) — Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, ensnared in a corruption scandal involving Latin America's largest construction firm, announced his resignation on Wednesday.
The resignation came one day shy of a congressional impeachment vote against Kuczynski, who made the announcement on national television but continued to deny any wrongdoing in a scandal involving nearly $800 million in alleged bribes paid by Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht.
"Facing this difficult situation that unfairly makes me look guilty of acts in which I have not participated, I think it's in the country's best interest for me to resign the republic's presidency," he said.
"I don't want to become a barrier for our country to find its way to the unity and harmony that we so much need and which I was denied."
Kuczynski, 79, called himself a victim of "subjective political acts," accused opposition leaders of a witch hunt and said his resignation would shield his family and the nation from further "uncertainty."
Video emerged this week showing a Kuczynski supporter in congress, Kenji Fujimori, offering kickbacks to legislators in exchange for a vote against the President's impeachment, CNN Español reported.
Kuczynski, who is accused of receiving more than $4 million from the Brazilian firm, is the latest prominent political figure embroiled in the scandal.
In December, Ecuador's suspended Vice President Jorge Glas, was sentenced to six years in prison for receiving $13.5 million in bribes from Odebrecht.
Peru's former President Ollanta Humala and his wife are in prison while authorities investigate their involvement with Odebrecht.
Police in Peru raided the home of former President Alejandro Toledo last year for allegedly accepting a Odebrecht bribe. Toledo denied the charges via Twitter but later disappeared and is thought to be in the United States.
Kuczynski served as finance and prime minister during Toledo's presidency.
Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva faces potential prison time for allegedly accepting a payment from Odebrecht that went toward the family's vacation home.
In January, a Brazilian appeals court unanimously upheld the corruption conviction of Lula da Silva, casting doubt on his plans to run again. The three appellate court judges also added 2½ years to his sentence, giving him 12 years in prison, though Lula da Silva remains free pending future appeals.
His successor, Brazil's first female President Dilma Rousseff, was impeached last year for separate charges, though the massive corruption scandal loomed over her ousting.
Odebrecht is accused of doling out nearly $800 million in bribes between 2001 and 2016 -- some filtered through the United States -- to get contracts from governments to build roads, bridges, dams and highways.
Authorities said Odebrecht officials shipped cash across the globe -- from one shell bank account to the next -- en route to politicians' pockets in a dozen countries, including Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Peru and Mozambique.
Bribes sometimes went through as many as four shell bank accounts before arriving at the final destination, authorities said.