Photo: ©AFP

Lima (AFP) – Peru’s Supreme Court Tuesday approved a government request to extradite former president Alejandro Toledo from the US to face charges over a $20 million dollar bribe from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.

The request, made on February 19, was unanimously approved by the court, said a judicial source who wished to remain anonymous.

“Yes, it has been approved at the Supreme Court level. The resolution should be announced around noon (1700 GMT),” the source told AFP.

The request has cleared its last legal step in Peru and now goes before the cabinet, who must endorse it before a formal extradition request is made to the US authorities — a process which could take another four weeks.

Toledo, 71, is accused of “influence peddling, collusion and money laundering,” over the alleged $20 million Odebrecht said it gave him.

The bribe was to ensure the success of a public tender to build a trans-Amazonian highway linking Atlantic ports in Brazil with Peruvian ports on the Pacific.

Toledo — who was president from 2001-2006 –inaugurated the highway in 2006 with then-Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who faces corruption charges in his own country.

Last month, a court froze around a million dollars held in Toledo’s Peruvian bank accounts.

Before the ruling Tuesday, a lawyer for Toledo, Heriberto Benitez, said his client was a “victim of political persecution” carried out by President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who was Toledo’s prime minister and is also tainted by the scandal.

Another former president, Ollanta Humala (2011-2016), is being held in pre-trail detention after Odebrecht allegedly contributed three million dollars to his electoral campaign.

The Brazilian company admitted in 2016 it had  poured 29 million dollars into Peru to influence three governments between 2005-2014.

Odebrecht has admitted giving $788 million in bribes to politicians across 12 mainly Latin American countries to secure contracts.

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