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Ecuador judge loosens reporting conditions for ex-president Moreno

Published Jun 05, 2023 07:04PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno visits areas affected by protests, in Quito, Ecuador October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero

By Alexandra Valencia

QUITO (Reuters) - A judge in Ecuador on Monday loosened reporting conditions for ex-president Lenin Moreno, who is being investigated on bribery charges over a contract for a Chinese-built hydroelectric plant.

Moreno, who denies the accusations, had been ordered to present himself in person every two weeks to the national justice court, but appealed on the grounds that he now lives in Paraguay. His appeal was rejected in March.

The attorney general's office had requested that Moreno and others accused in the case be jailed for failing to comply with the order, but the judge on Monday ruled Moreno can report to Ecuadorean authorities in Paraguay each month and to those in Quito every four months.

Moreno has said he had no responsibility for the contract and that the accusations are a distraction from political upheaval in Ecuador.

"The institutions which we so defended had a good day today by accepting my request to report to the embassy in Paraguay during this investigation phase," Moreno said on Twitter on Monday, reiterating his innocence.

Prosecutors accused Moreno, who was president between 2017 and 2021, of alleged involvement with bribes paid in connection with the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric project, built by China's Sinohydro.

Thirty-six others are accused in the case and up to $76 million in bribes are alleged to have been paid between 2009 and 2018.

Moreno, 70, was serving as vice president under former President Rafael Correa, himself convicted of corruption, during part of that time.

The plant, which has a capacity of 1,500 megawatts, has suffered technical issues since it began operating in 2016.

Moreno, who uses a wheelchair, serves on an Organization of American States committee for disability rights.

Ecuador judge loosens reporting conditions for ex-president Moreno

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