Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Vice President of Ecuador Jorge Glas will face trial on bribery charges, the country's National Court of Justice ruled.
Glas is the highest-ranking politician indicted thus far in a widespread scandal involving Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction company. The U.S. Department of Justice revealed in December that Odebrecht paid $788 million in bribes across 12 Latin American and African countries for preferential treatment in obtaining infrastructure construction projects. Over $33.5 million in bribes were paid in Ecuador, former Odebrecht executive Jose Conceicao Santos admitted in a plea deal. Prosecutors accuse Glas of talking $13.5 million, or about one-third of the money paid in Ecuador. Glas denies the charges.
As part of a plea deal, Jose Conceicao Santos, a former Odebrecht executive in Ecuador, admitted that the company had paid $33.5 million in bribes since 2007 to secure infrastructure contracts in the country.
Glas was arrested on Oct. 2, and has been in custody without bail since that date. He will be tried for illicit association and faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
Twelve others allegedly involved in the corruption scandal are also in custody in Ecuador. Politicians in Mexico, Peru, Panama and Brazil have been identified as involved in the corruption scandal.
With charges mounting against him, President Lenin Moreno relieved Glas of his government duties in August.
Glas has said he is a victim of political and media persecution. In a letter from jail to his children, released to the public immediately after the decision to try him, he wrote, "Your father is imprisoned because he was direct and for always standing up. Your father never flees. Someday you will understand all this. The example of my actions is the best legacy I can give you. Always remember that you never have to resign yourself to threats, hatred, and injustice."