Prosecutor Diana Salazar has documented the movement of $76 million in bribes allegedly delivered by Sinohydro during the construction and financing of the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric plant.
The investigation is in its early stages, but the Sinohydro case appears to be clear.
During the hearing to formulate charges for 37 people charged with bribery, Salazar presented evidence of the amounts received by those involved and the path followed by the bribe money.
The money reportedly started in Panama, where Sinohydro deposited $76 million into the Recorsa account in 2010. Recorsa is an Ecuadorian company with a mirror company in Panama, owned by Conto Patiño and his four children, who are all charged in the case.
The money was then distributed to its beneficiaries through various means such as checks, transfers, purchases of goods, and triangulations.
Half a million dollars went to the Moreno family
The presidential family allegedly received over half a million dollars, with payments made to former President Lenín Moreno and his wife Rocío González.
The funds were transferred from the Recorsa account to INA Investment, a company created by Edwin Moreno, Lenín Moreno’s brother. From there, money was transferred to a Swiss furniture sales company, and furniture was purchased for Lenín Moreno’s home in Switzerland when he served as a UN representative on disability issues.
INA also made a payment of over $200,000 to the owners of an apartment in Alicante, Spain, which now allegedly belongs to the Moreno-González family.
Irina Moreno, one of the former president’s daughters, received $50,000 through an invoice paid by the Ginepri company, owned by Xavier Macías Carmigniani, Conto Patiño’s son-in-law.
Although she denied having a business relationship with Ginepri and Macías, an invoice was presented by the Prosecutor’s Office referring to the preparation of alleged family portraits for $50,000.
Edwin Moreno, the creator of INA Investment, allegedly received the largest sum of the extended family, totaling $350,000. He claimed to have a friendly relationship with Xavier Macías and his wife María Auxiliadora Patiño, and that they had planned to establish a car importer in Panama, which is why INA was created.
Edwin Moreno said he put $150,000 as an initial investment, but when the business failed, Macías and Patiño returned $210,000 without providing a reason for the difference.
Edwin Moreno used emissaries to collect his money, inviting friends to cash checks in Panama. His wife, Jaqueline Viteri, also traveled to Panama twice to cash checks and is now being prosecuted for bribery.
Guillermo Moreno, Lenín Moreno’s brother, and Martha González, his sister-in-law, also allegedly received checks from Ginepri in Ecuador.
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Carlo Patino family took millions
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the Patiño family received millions of dollars in bribes. Conto Patiño and his family allegedly collected about $44 million. The family members involved include his four children, son-in-law, granddaughter, and the husband of another granddaughter.
The key figures in the Patiño family’s bribery scheme are María Auxiliadora and her husband Xavier Macías, who received $23.5 million through accounts in Panama and Ecuador. Macías was also responsible for distributing the bribes through his company, Ginepri.
Juan Carlos Patiño, another of Conto Patiño’s sons, is said to have received around $1 million from the bribes, which he took to a JP Morgan account in the United States, claiming it was a donation from his father.
Meanwhile, Victoria Patiño Chiarello, Conto Patiño’s daughter, was allegedly involved in the scheme and received $200,000 from the Recorsa account in Panama, although she denies receiving the money.
Patricia and Manuel, Conto Patiño’s other children, are also listed in the Panamanian archives as recipients of $600,000 and $100,000, respectively.
Finally, Juan Manuel Durini, the husband of another Patiño granddaughter, received $900,000, which he claimed was a reimbursement of expenses for accompanying his grandparents on trips abroad.
Patiño employees helped launder the money
The Prosecutor’s Office theorizes that the Patiño family utilized their employees to move money. Some employees handed the money directly to Conto Patiño while others used it to pay their own salaries.
For example, Juan Simbaña, a Recorsa messenger, cashed checks totaling $6 million and gave all the cash to Conto Patiño. Antonio Simbaña, an accounting assistant, received $250,000.
Pablo Avilés, who retired from Novatex, another Patiño company, is listed as a beneficiary of $250,000, which he claims was received as part of his employer’s liquidation and retirement.
Other employees who allegedly received money include Francisco Chiriboga ($190,000), Mauricio Pérez de Anda ($190,000), Mercedes Cruz ($500,000), Pablo Zatizabal ($150,000), Francisco Espinoza ($100,000), and Monica Ortega ($400,000).
Lawyers for Patiño also received bribe payments
Although not on the payroll of their companies, the Patiños appear to have used some of the Sinohydro funds to pay their private lawyers.
Eduardo Carmigniani, who has known Conto Patiño for 30 years and advised him on legal matters related to private banking, received $2.6 million, which was paid through checks and transfers in Panama.
Similarly, Ximena Delgado, a 69-year-old lawyer, allegedly received $400,000 of the bribe money for providing legal services to Recorsa. She was paid with checks picked up from the company’s Quito headquarters and deposited into her account.
Finally, Carlos Almeida, who helped Conto Patiño when he was bankrupt, stated that his fees were paid in Panama after Conto Patiño’s financial situation improved.
Government officials took payments as well
Three former officials with ties to the Coca Codo Sinclair project, along with the spouse of one of them, are implicated in a money laundering scheme involving over $585,000.
Luciano Cepeda, a member of the Technical Commission that accepted Sinohydro’s offer and recommended their hiring, allegedly received around $50,000 from Recorsa Panama which ended up in an Ecuadorian investment fund.
His spouse, María Baquero, is listed as the beneficiary of the money. The couple claims to have consulted Recorsa, but only provided a simple copy of a receipt as proof.
Henry Galarza, a former manager of the project, is said to have received $200,000, while Francisco Castello, who developed the project’s foundations, is a beneficiary of $58,000. Both of these sums are also from Panama.
Over $1 million went back to Sinohydro reps
Sinohydro representatives also received $1.0 million from Recorsa Panama, with payments made to several individuals involved in negotiations, including Cai Runguo, former Chinese ambassador to Ecuador, and representatives Yan Huijun, Song Dongsheng, Wu Yu, and Liu Aisheg.
A check for over $40,000 was drawn from the Ginepri account, belonging to Xavier Macías and María Auxiliadora Patiño, in Cai Runguo’s name.
These transfers contradict Recorsa’s earlier defense, which claimed to have received $76 million for consultancy services provided to Sinohydro.
However, it appears that Recorsa ultimately paid more than $1.0 million to individuals involved in the negotiations.