September 5, 2022

DOJ announces it will return forfeited bribery proceeds to Peru

On August 31, 2022, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it would return to the Republic of Peru approximately $686,000 obtained from a civil forfeiture matter it had filed against property owned by former Peruvian President Alejandro Celestino Toledo Manrique (who served as Peru’s president from approximately 2001 to 2006).

As alleged by the DOJ, these funds originated from a scheme in which Toledo, during his time in office, solicited millions of dollars in bribes from Odebrecht SA (a Brazil-based global construction conglomerate) in exchange for ensuring Odebrecht would be awarded Peruvian government contracts in connection with the construction of the Peru-Brazil Southern Interoceanic Highway.  Odebrecht allegedly made these bribe payments to Toledo using accounts maintained by Toledo’s co-conspirators.  DOJ alleged that in or around 2007, Toledo and his family—acting through a corporation formed for the purpose of concealing Toledo’s connection to the funds and the funds’ connection to Odebrecht—used approximately $1.2 million of the bribe proceeds to purchase real estate in Maryland.  In 2015, after a series of transaction allegedly intended to hide Toledo’s ownership in the Maryland property, Toledo sold the Maryland property for $1.2 million (the same price for which he had purchased it in 2007).  The sale proceeds were then allegedly further laundered through a trust and into a bank account controlled by Toledo, from which they were seized in the DOJ forfeiture action.

The DOJ thanked the Peruvian government for its  “extensive and wide-ranging assistance,” which included providing the DOJ with the evidence necessary to seize these assets and substantially contributed to the success of the DOJ ‘s forfeiture action.  Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite Jr stated that “[t]his case is an important example of the international cooperation necessary to address corruption abroad where illicit proceeds are brought to the United States,” and represented that the DOJ would continue to “recover and repatriate such corruption proceeds where appropriate.”  

DOJ Press Release | DOJ Complaint