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Ecuador court sentences VP to six years in jail in Odebrecht graft case

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Ecuador court sentences VP to six years in jail in Odebrecht graft case

Ecuador court sentences VP to six years in jail in Odebrecht graft case
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By Jose Llangari and Alexandra Valencia

QUITO (Reuters) - An Ecuadorean court on Wednesday sentenced Vice President Jorge Glas to six years in jail after finding him guilty of receiving bribes from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht [ODBCT.UL] in return for handing the scandal-ridden firm state contracts.

A close ally of leftist ex-President Rafael Correa, Glas served as Correa's vice president from 2013 and retained the position under current President Lenin Moreno.

But Moreno, who has largely broken from Correa, suspended Glas in August, accusing him of not being a team player. An Ecuadorean judge in October then ordered pre-trial detention for Glas as part of the investigation into Odebrecht.

The public prosecutor's office accused him of pocketing a roughly $13.5-million (£10 million) bribe from Odebrecht via his uncle.

"Glas constructed, with (former Odebrecht executive) Jose Conceicao Santos, the awarding of public contracts in return for payment," Judge Edgar Flores said on Wednesday as he read the decision.

Glas, a 48-year-old electrical engineer, has been accused by senior members of Correa's government of corruption while serving as strategic sectors minister and vice president.

His lawyer slammed the decision as "unjust" and vowed to appeal.

Glas' downfall highlights how fallout from the massive Odebrecht corruption scandal has continued to ripple across South America.

The company, which has admitted to paying bribes to win contracts in a number of countries, has paid $3.5 billion in settlements in the United States, Brazil and Switzerland.

Odebrecht allegedly paid $33.5 million in bribes to secure contracts in Ecuador. The opposition says that Correa's government was slow to investigate, although he rejects that.

(Writing by Alexandra UlmerEditing by Sandra Maler)

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