Ecuador to probe ex-president over $4.9bn oil projects

Ecuador to probe ex-president over $4.9bn oil projects

Ecuadoran President Lenin Moreno. PHOTO CREDIT: Prensa Latina

Ecuador’s President, Lenin Moreno, citing massive cost overruns, operational failings and non-transparent bidding in $4.9 billion of oil-related infrastructure projects, has called for the probe of his predecessor.

The projects include a $2.2 billion upgrade to the state-run Esmeraldas refinery.

Moreno alleged on Thursday that the South American oil wealth was looted during the decade-long tenure of Rafael Correa his predecessor.

“Nearly $5 billion of Ecuadoreans’ money, when it should have cost half that,” Moreno said in a national broadcast.

“This theft of public funds cannot go unpunished.”

Moreno took office in May 2017 after earning Correa’s endorsement during the campaign, but the two later fell out over Moreno’s market-friendly policies.

Last year, Moreno asked a United Nations unit to conduct a technical and economic review of the five projects undertaken by the previous administration.

Correa has denied allegations of corruption in his administration, calling them a political smear campaign.

The other projects Moreno mentioned included a natural gas liquefaction plant, a seaport, a fuel distribution centre, a pipeline and a partly-built refinery that has run out of financing after receiving some $1.5 billion in investment.