Luis Castañeda, the former mayor of Lima (2014-2018), will be placed in pretrial detention for two years after a tax investigation for money laundering, collusion and illegal association, linked to the receipt of funds from Brazilian construction companies Odebrecht and OAS for his campaign electoral, in exchange for public works concessions.
Castañeda, according to the investigation, received $ 450,000 from Odebrecht. The former president of Grupo OAS, Leo Pinheiro, revealed to prosecutors in Peru that his company gave $ 480,000 to the Peruvian politician, according to the interrogations conducted in Curitiba, Brazil. In reading the resolution this Friday, Judge María Álvarez determined the ex-mayor’s preventive detention to prevent Luis Castañeda from obstructing the tax investigation that is still ongoing.
The former mayor of Lima is investigated by the Lava Jato Special Team along with the politician José Luna, who is signaled for simulating payments from his university and Telesup company to Luis Castañeda, 74, to triangulate the construction companies’ money. Last year, the quality supervisory agency of the universities of the South American country denied Telesup a license to continue operating.
José Luna was a congressman of Solidaridad Nacional, the party with which Castañeda arrived at the mayor’s office in Lima in 2014. However, when evidence and confessions began to appear against the former mayor, he left to found a new political formation called Podemos Peru.
The inscription of the new formation of Luna in the registry of political organizations was assisted by one of the members of the corruption network in the justice system, Cuellos Blancos del Puerto. Podemos Peru appeared in the parliamentary elections on January 26, and won the most voted congressman in Lima: Daniel Urresti, a retired military officer who in April will face a trial for the murder of a journalist in 1988.
In one of the proceedings of the request for pretrial detention at the end of January, prosecutor Milagros Salazar informed the judge that the effective collaborator of the investigation, Martín Bustamante, former chief advisor of Castañeda in Lima, received threats from the driver and also from the spokesperson politician, who asked him to stop handing out evidence to the authorities.
According to Bustamante, Castañeda would have asked him not to betray Luna and Giselle Zegarra, another trusted official of the former mayor who held the position of private investment manager in the Peruvian capital and was the main interlocutor of the OAS construction company. She is also investigated in this same case. The judge has ordered Luna and Zegarra to appear with restrictions and the payment of a bond.
Castañeda, second mayor of Lima in pretrial detention
The corruption facts of Castañeda were denounced since 2015 by citizens, especially young people, who camped on the avenue where Castañeda began the construction of an overpass without technical file and for which he used funds that he removed from another urban project called Rio Green. The work was in charge of the Brazilian construction company OAS and was advertised as a solution to traffic, a problem that it did not solve. Students of architecture and urbanism also denounced between 2015 and 2016 the futility of the project.
The Río Verde project, which annulled Castañeda to pay OAS on bypass, contemplated, among others, the construction of a set of buildings to relocate the 300 families of Cantagallo, an Amazonian community – of the Shipiba ethnic group, which suffered a fire in November 2016. The settlement was located a kilometer and a half from the Municipality of Lima. To date, former residents of Cantagallo are still waiting for relocation.
The fiscal thesis also indicates that Castañeda signed contracts for the Rutas de Lima road project, in favor of Odebrecht, in exchange for campaign contributions. According to reports from the Comptroller, the OAS company obtained concessions for more than two million dollars in the four years of Castañeda’s management.
Castañeda is the second mayor of Lima in pretrial detention for the Odebrecht case: since June he had an order to prevent him from leaving the country. Susana Villarán is investigated for corruption and money laundering, upon receiving funds from said company and OAS for her advertising campaign against her dismissal in 2013 and for re-election in 2014. The ex-mayor has been holding preventive detention since May last year.
Castañeda thus joins the group of the most important Peruvian politicians investigated by the Lava Jato case with restrictions on their freedom, such as former presidents Alejandro Toledo (imprisoned in the US and with an extradition request) and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (in house arrest) . Likewise, opposition leader and former presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori continues in pretrial detention. In 2018, the Constitutional Court released former president Ollanta Humala and his wife, who spent nine months in pretrial detention. Alan García committed suicide last April when a prosecutor and police arrived at his home to carry out a preliminary detention order, in the context of an investigation for bribes paid by Odebrecht.