A scandal involving a Brazilian construction giant has widened with the jailing of Ecuador’s vice president as part of an investigation into accusations of bribery.
The authorities ordered Vice President Jorge Glas, 48, held in pretrial detention on Monday night and froze his assets. The case relates to Odebrecht, an international construction company, which admitted last year to playing a role in one of the world’s largest bribery rings. The case implicated governments throughout Latin America.
Mr. Glas has not been charged, but investigators have said that he is a key figure in their investigation and that they believe he worked with those accepting bribes. An uncle of Mr. Glas’s was put under house arrest in June and was transferred to a jail on Monday.
Shortly before surrendering to the authorities on Monday night, Mr. Glas released a video statement saying that he had done nothing wrong and that the accusations were motivated by politics. “Innocent people have no reason to flee,” he said. “I’m going to continue fighting from wherever they take me for the truth and for justice.”
Odebrecht has admitted to paying nearly $800 million in bribes on projects in more than a dozen countries, mainly in Latin America. This year, officials and former leaders in the region have found themselves the targets of corruption investigations.
The authorities in Peru have jailed Ollanta Humala, a former president, in relation to an investigation there, while prosecutors in Colombia said this year that the company might have donated to a past presidential campaign. A former prosecutor in Venezuela claims that she has evidence linking the company to President Nicolás Maduro’s government.
The jailing of Mr. Glas will also have implications for politics within Ecuador, where President Lenin Moreno, who took office this year, has sought to break from his predecessor, Rafael Correa, who governed the country for a decade.
Mr. Glas is widely seen as a protégé of Mr. Correa’s and had been favored by the departing president over Mr. Moreno to succeed him.
In August, Mr. Moreno stripped Mr. Glas of nearly all powers as vice president, after Mr. Glas criticized him.
Mr. Moreno continued his push against Mr. Correa this week, announcing questions for a proposed referendum that could block Mr. Correa from seeking to return to the presidency.