Ecuador Internacional

Ecuador & Panama Papers: Oily Payments

Panama Papers reveal corruption at Ecuador’s state oil company Petroecuador.

Latinvex 21/06/2016

Photo: Latinvex

Photo: Latinvex

QUITO -- The journalistic treasure trove of the Panama Papers continues to provide more evidence of suspicious transactions involving Ecuadorian officials.

Last week, El Universo broke stories, based on documents of legal firm Mossack Fonseca, involving Petrochina, Petroecuador, its former chief executive, as well as Ecuador’s ambassador to Panama. While officials sought to deny and/or downplay the information reported by the Guayaquil-based daily, working in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that coordinated the distribution of the leaked documents, the reports add to the body of corruption suspicions troubling the Correa administration.

The most significant case involves the Petrochina $1 billion, 7.25 percent two-year loan to Ecuador from July 2009, the first of several such deals locking a major part of Ecuador’s oil exports into the hands of the Chinese company. The comptroller general’s office investigated the deal and, in 2013, found an unjustifiable loss of $34.5 million, which it blamed on a series of former and current officials at Petroecuador, the state oil firm that handles the sales side of the government-controlled industry. El Universo’s report, meanwhile, revealed that Ecuadorian companies were paid a commission of $1 per barrel. Petroecuador had agreed to deliver 69 million barrels to cover the loan, which is kept off Ecuador’s debt books by the government’s decision to consider these types of transactions “pre-sales” rather than credit operations. 

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