Despite demands for his resignation following corruption allegations, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, Peru’s president, has said he will not step down.
His impeachment became a possibility after it emerged that Odebrecht, a Brazilian company that has bribed politicians across Latin America, said it paid Kuczynski $5m (£3.7m) between 2004 and 2007 when he was a government minister.
The payments by Odebrecht were made to Westfield Capital Ltd, a company Kuczynski used to own.
Last year, Odebrecht was fined a record $3.5bn by the US for bribing government officials from various countries.
In a televised address late on Thursday, the scandal-plagued Kuczynski denied any wrongdoing, adding that he was not a manager at Westfield Capital Ltd when the money was received.
I‘m an honest man and have been my whole life. I‘m willing to defend the truth. I‘m not going to abdicate my honor, my values, or my responsibilities as president of all Peruvians.
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Writing on Twitter after his address, he said:
It cost us a lot to get our democracy back. We’re not going to lose it again.
Kuczynski has promised to give authorities unrestricted access to his banking records. He has also agreed to be questioned by both Congress and the attorney general’s office.
Earlier this week Odebrecht sent Congress a report detailing deposits of about $800,000 to Westfield Capital Ltd, and about $4m to First Capital Inversiones y Asesorias, a firm controlled by one of Kuczynski’s close friends.
However, Peru’s right-wing opposition Popular Force party said that there’s nothing Kuczynski can do to avoid impeachment because there is enough evidence to prove he is guilty.
Party spokesman Daniel Salaverry said:
It’s obvious that him staying on in the nation’s highest office is untenable.
“The country right now can’t afford the luxury of having a president that is so questioned,” he added.
Senior officials in Kuczynski’s government have also called on him to quit, Reuters reported.
Steve Levitsky, a Harvard University political scientist said it is likely that Kuczynski won’t stay on as president:
He definitely seems to be dead in the water. It’s not that what he did was necessarily illegal, but the fact that he swore over and over again that he had no ties to Odebrecht and that was proven to be nakedly false.
On Wednesday, Jorge Glas, Ecuador’s vice president, was sentenced to six years for taking $13.5m in bribes from Odebrecht.