(CNN Spanish) ––
(CNN Spanish) ––
The Ecuadorian Prosecutor's Office reported this Tuesday that it carried out 25 raids in Quito and Guayaquil as part of an investigation opened in 2019 for suspicions of organized crime related to alleged acts of corruption in the state oil company Petroecuador.
The Prosecutor's Office added that eight people were arrested in those operations.
Among them Pablo Celi, acting comptroller general of the State and José Augusto Briones, former Secretary General of the Presidency and former Minister of Energy and Non-Renewable Natural Resources.
Also to his brothers and other people.
In addition, several documents, electronic devices, financial information, computers, cell phones, safes, cash and other items were seized.
It is the first time that the Prosecutor's Office includes Comptroller Celi and former Minister Briones, who had not been previously prosecuted for this crime, in the investigations.
The president of Ecuador, Lenín Moreno, expressed on his Twitter account that he respects the independence of justice.
«I have had knowledge of the arrests and raids that took place this morning.
As has been my custom from the first moment, my respect for the independence and autonomy of the functions of the State, "he wrote.
The communication department of the Comptroller's Office told journalists that it was collecting information.
He also added that he will meet with the entity's authorities to announce what decisions will be made after Celi's arrest.
Comptroller defense awaits responses
After his arrest, Celi was admitted to the Flagrancy Unit in Quito.
Abroad, his lawyer Jorge Luis Ortega said that the comptroller has not been informed about the investigations for which he was detained.
“He does not even know about the investigations or proceedings after having been deprived of his liberty.
We understand that it has been information or an investigation that has been collected by another country and that this information or this investigation has come to the attention of the State Attorney General's Office.
We are going to go to the Prosecutor's Office to request all the information because it is unprecedented how a high official of the State is deprived of liberty and is not given information about these investigations, "said Ortega about Celi's situation.
CNN is trying to contact Briones's defense.
The flagrante delicto judges must decide whether to order preventive detention or other substitute measures for Briones, Celi and the other detainees, while the prosecution's investigations continue.
In a statement issued this Monday, the state-owned company Petroecuador reported that it carried out several joint actions with the Prosecutor's Office and the Attorney General's Office for "protection and defense against acts of corruption."
Petroecuador pointed out that these actions are focused on cooperation and delivery of information, in accordance with each judicial investigation process and the defense of the State in the corruption cases under investigation, the details of which are not mentioned in the document.