Peru President Refuses Calls to Quit Over Alleged Odebrecht Ties

(Bloomberg) -- Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has rebuffed calls to resign over alleged ties to companies that received payments from disgraced Brazilian builder Odebrecht SA.

Speaking on state television late Thursday night, Kuczynski said claims by opposition lawmakers that he received payments from Odebrecht while he was a government minister were false. He promised to allow investigators to examine his bank accounts.

Peru President Refuses Calls to Quit Over Alleged Odebrecht Ties

“I’m an honest man and have been all my life. I’m prepared to defend the truth before the Car Wash committee and the Attorney General’s office,’’ Kuczynski said, a reference to the congressional committee investigating the so-called Car Wash bribery case. “I’m not going to abdicate my honor, my values or my responsibilities as president.’’

Earlier, lawmakers from the Popular Force party, which has a congressional majority, said Kuczynski should step aside immediately, while the Broad Front party said Congress should force the president out. Three other opposition parties joined calls for Kuczynski to go.

The political crisis escalated rapidly after the committee said Wednesday it obtained information showing a consultancy set up by Kuczynski received payments from Odebrecht when he was a minister more than a decade ago. Kuczynski said Thursday he had no involvement in the firm while he held public office.

The bribery probe has rocked Peru’s political establishment and damped economic growth after Odebrecht admitted to bribing public officials from previous administrations. The investigation has implicated former presidents, government officials and businessmen, and prosecutors are looking into Kuczynski’s role in the Interoceanica highway contract awarded to Odebrecht when he was a government minister.

The president had turned down repeated requests to speak to the Car Wash committee, which is led by lawmakers from Popular Force, insisting he would only respond to questions in writing. Though that attitude has now changed, Popular Force lawmakers say it’s too late.

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