(Bloomberg) -- Ecuador’s highest court found found former President Rafael Correa guilty of bribery along with 19 other defendants.
Three judges at the National Court of Ecuador found that Correa and other senior officials had funneled bribes from private companies to fund political campaigns from 2012 through 2016. In exchange, companies received government contracts, the court found.
Correa, who now lives in Belgium, has two chances to appeal. If the ruling becomes final, he will be barred from holding office for life and his hopes of making a political comeback will be effectively destroyed.
Correa has repeatedly denied the charges and says he is the victim of political persecution. Interpol has previously refused to agree to his arrest.
Correa allied himself with Venezuela and Cuba during his 10 years in office, in which he defaulted on debt and expelled a U.S. ambassador. Current President Lenin Moreno was an ally of Correa’s, but soon split with him after taking office in 2017.
Aside from Correa, the judges sentenced 17 of the remaining defendants, including representatives of the companies that paid the bribes, to the maximum eight-year prison sentence. Pamela Martinez, a former aide of Correa’s and one-time Constitutional Court judge, and Laura Teran, an aide to Martinez, received reduced sentences because they pleaded guilty.
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