Trial of Ecuadorian president: businessman at the heart of scandal found dead

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso is facing an impeachment trial in parliament on corruption charges. © Matilde Campodonico / AP

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The body of businessman Ruben Cherres was discovered on Friday 31 March. At the heart of the El gran padrino (The Great Godfather) scandal, he was suspected of being linked to the Albanian mafia and of being the confidant of Guillermo Lasso's brother-in-law.


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It is a very suspicious death that does not help the affairs of Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso, who is about to be judged politically by Parliament. Ecuadorian police had been searching for Ruben Cherres since January 21, but his killers were more efficient and faster, says our correspondent in Quito, Eric Samson. The body of the businessman was found in Punta Blanca, in the province of Santa Elena (west), along with three other corpses, two men and a woman.

Ruben Cherres presented himself as an "oilman" even though his business was more related to real estate. Since 2014, he shared the shares of twelve companies with Dritan Gjika, an Albanian citizen living in the port of Guayaquil. According to the Superintendence of Ecuadorian Companies, a business control body, quoted by the media Plan V, at least two of these companies had not complied with the rules for the prevention of drug laundering and the financing of terrorist activities. Since the late 1990s, Ruben Cherres had apparently had links to drug traffickers, but had always evaded justice.

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For some members of the opposition, his assassination is aimed at protecting President Lasso ahead of his impeachment trial on charges of corruption and crimes against state security. Because Ruben Cherres was at the heart of the scandal "The Great Godfather", which broke in mid-February with the journalistic investigation of the online media La Posta on a network of corruption in the country's public companies. Questioned by this media, Ruben Cherres had admitted to having links with the Albanian mafia, as suspected by the police. In its investigation, the Ecuadorian media also reported that Ruben Cherres was a man of confidence and a close friend of Danilo Carrera, the brother-in-law of Guillermo Lasso and that he would have been the operator of a network of corruption in the country's public companies.

These revelations by La Posta led to the opposition's demands for a lawsuit against the head of state. The opposition in Parliament considers that he had been warned of the existence of this device and that he had not acted to stop it. The head of state argued that the case for which he will be prosecuted took place between 2018 and 2020, when he was not president. However, he is accused of not having intervened in time at the beginning of his mandate, even though he was aware of contracts detrimental to the Ecuadorian State.

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Read on on the same topics:

  • Ecuador
  • Guillermo Lasso
  • Criminality