A Peruvian court has issued an international warrant for the arrest of ex-President Alejandro Toledo on suspicion of taking bribes from a Brazilian construction giant at the heart of a region-wide corruption scandal.
Judge Richard Concepcion, late on Thursday (local time), accepted a request by prosecutors that Toledo be jailed as they investigated allegations that he received $20m in bribes from Odebrecht in exchange for permission to build a highway connecting Brazil with the Peruvian coast.
The order calls on Toledo to be placed under "preventative custody" for 18 months, while demanding his "immediate location, capture and confinement".
Toledo, who is believed to be in the French capital, Paris, has denied any wrongdoing.
"Say when, how and where and in what bank they've given me $20m," Toledo said in an interview with a local radio station over the weekend.
Odebrecht, once Latin America's biggest construction company, has admitted to paying almost $800m in bribes to governments across the region as part of a December plea agreement with the US justice department.
In Peru, the company acknowledged paying $29m for projects built during the government of Toledo and two successors.
Toledo, a former World Bank economist, served as Peru's president from 2001 to 2006.
In 2010 he sought the presidency anew but failed to make it to the second round of voting.
The scandal also threatens to implicate Toledo's successors: Alan Garcia and Ollanta Humala.
Garcia has denied any wrongdoing in recent weeks as authorities have arrested several accused of taking bribes from Odebrecht during his 2006-2011 government.
Aside from Peru, several countries in Latin America, including Panama, Mexico, Argentina and Uruguay, are carrying out investigations into bribes paid by Odebrecht.
In Panama, a former personal adviser to President Juan Carlos Varela on Thursday said his former boss had accepted campaign donations from Odebrecht.
Source: News agencies