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article imageJailed Ecuador VP says he is target of construction giant's revenge

By Jordi MIRO, Santiago PIEDRA SILVA (AFP)     Oct 14, 2017 in World

Ecuador's vice president, Jorge Glas, in jail pending a criminal investigation into allegations he took $16 million in bribes from Brazil's Odebrecht, told AFP Saturday he is a victim of revenge by the construction giant.

Glas on October 2 became the highest-ranking serving politician to go down as a suspected recipient of illegal kickbacks from the Brazilian group for helping it get public contracts.

Under investigation by the US Justice Department, Odebrecht agreed in December to pay a record $3.5 billion fine after admitting to paying $788 million in bribes across 12 countries to secure juicy tenders.

"I have never committed any crime. And a person who does not commit a crime never expects to see himself in a situation like this," he told AFP in an interview at Quito's Penitentiary 4.

Asked about motivation for him being investigated. Glas said it all went back to a clash with the head of Odebrecht, whom he said was getting payback after it was thrown out of Ecuador in 2008.

"Obviously, (Marcelo) Odebrecht planned his revenge from the very day I asked him to get out, when he refused to repair the San Francisco hydroelectric plant," Glas said.

"Marcelo Odebrecht met me, and hinted that we were using him politically to win votes. I threw him out of my office, shoved him out... He threatened me and said, 'You're not always going to be a public servant, you'll see', and he left. "

Glas is just the latest political figure in Latin America to be identified as a suspected recipient of bribes from the Brazilian group.

Fallout from the scandal has cast a cloud over politicians in several other countries, including Mexico, Peru, Panama and Venezuela.

Glas, who was minister of strategic sectors before becoming vice president in 2013, has denied any link to the Odebrecht scandal, though his uncle, Ricardo Rivera, has been arrested for his alleged involvement.

More about Ecuador, Politics, Corruption, Brazil, odebrecht
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