APRA’s congressional bloc supports Del Castillo following new recordings

President Alan García’s ruling Aprista party has decided to unanimously support Congressman Jorge del Castillo as he faces allegations of influence peddling revealed in illegally taped phone conversations.

“We believe in the innocence of Jorge del Castillo,” Congressman and Aprista spokesman José Vargas told state news agencyAndina. “Believing is not an act of faith but rather emerges from facts, that is to say, that what has been presented so far does not link him to any illicit act.”

Del Castillo, a stalwart of the Aprista party, was first implicated by Giselle Giannotti, a former employee of the company Business Track, who is accused of phone tapping, of being involved in an oil concession kickback scandal dating back to 2008. Del Castillo, at the time, was García’s prime minister and forced to resign following the revelations of the scandal.

Phone tapping and theft of emails by Business Track revealed alleged backroom dealings between the president of Petroperu and private entrepreneurs to grant oil exploration concessions. The recordings were obtained by journalists and broadcast in October 2008.

More recently, however, two recordings obtained and broadcast Monday by the investigative TV program Prensa Libre further mired Del Castillo in the scandal.

In one of the recordings, Alberto Quimper, a former member of Petroperu’s board, tells Petroperu’s former president, Daniel Saba, that Del Castillo was lobbying on behalf Julio Vera, the president of oil company Petrolera Monterrico, to provide favors for the Lima-based company.

Allegations of corruption on the recordings have also reached Presidential Secretary Luis Nava and former housing minister, Hernan Garrido Lecca.

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