Outcry Over Peru’s Vast Graft Probe Prompts Top Lawyer to Quit

(Bloomberg) -- Peru’s Attorney General Pedro Chavarry quit his post amid allegations he sought to sabotage a plea deal with a major construction company and derail the country’s biggest corruption probe.

The board of supreme prosecutors accepted his resignation Tuesday and appointed Zoraida Avalos as his replacement, according to a post on the account of the attorney general’s office. Chavarry will continue to sit on the five-member board.

The announcement ends a crisis that came to a head after Chavarry removed two lead prosecutors from a team that’s investigating former presidents, politicians and businessmen as part of the so-called Carwash probe. A decision to later reinstate both officials did little to appease Peruvians who took to the streets of Lima and other cities last week to call for his resignation, while former backers in Congress said his position was untenable.

President Martin Vizcarra has made combating graft the cornerstone of his administration and said last week he was ready to request a confidence vote if lawmakers don’t debate an emergency reorganization of the attorney general’s office. Some lawmakers say Vizcarra’s proposal to suspend the office’s current board isn’t viable as the body has autonomy under Peru’s constitution.

Chavarry said via Twitter Monday that by resigning he aimed to defend the autonomy of his office and other entities. The attorney general has faced pressure to step aside since he was implicated in a separate probe into a judicial corruption ring shortly after assuming his position in July. He clung on with the support of the biggest opposition party, Popular Force, whose leader Keiko Fujimori was jailed last year as part of the Odebrecht probe.

Carwash prosecutor Jose Domingo Perez began investigating Chavarry for allegedly interfering in the case following Fujimori’s pre-trial detention. The former attorney general has denied acting on behalf of any political party or group.

A congressional committee voted Tuesday to begin evaluating five separate requests to investigate Chavarry and remove him from the board of supreme prosecutors.

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