News Release

Murder in Ecuador of Key Witness in Investigation of Scandal-Plagued President as Impeachment Begins


The Center for Economic and Policy Research notes that “With the mysterious murder of Rubén Cherres, a key witness in the potential links between the Lasso administration in Ecuador and organized crime has been eliminated.”

See the group’s news release: “Ecuador: Murder of Key Witness in Investigation of President Lasso, Others, Raises More Questions.”

CEPR states: “On Friday, Ecuadorian police found the body of Rubén Cherres, who had apparently been murdered, alongside three other people, in Punta Blanca, a seaside resort on the Ecuadorian coast. Authorities had been looking for Cherres since January 21, when a warrant was issued for his arrest. Cherres’s murder is the latest crime in a series of corruption revelations that have shaken Ecuador, and that implicate Ecuador’s scandal-plagued president, Guillermo Lasso.”

“This multiple murder raises more questions about Lasso’s inner circle and the mounting evidence that the president has been surrounded by corruption and criminal enterprises,” said Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center of Economic and Policy Research.

The group adds: “Rubén Cherres was a close collaborator of Danilo Carrera, President Lasso’s brother-in-law and lifelong business associate. Carrera was also an important funder of Lasso’s presidential campaign. Carrera and Lasso share a long history at Banco de Guayaquil, in which Lasso is a majority shareholder, and in the offshore emporium that they built around it. When Lasso was elected in 2021, Carrera replaced him as president of the bank.

“Although he holds no formal position in the Lasso administration, several former government officials have stated that Carrera plays an important advisory role to the president and is a powerful figure in the presidential palace. Notably, Carrera accompanied Lasso on his December 2022 trip to Washington, D.C.”

“Several investigations have alleged that President Lasso has used the United States financial system as a tax haven and to hide assets, in violation of both Ecuadorian and U.S. law,” said Weisbrot.

CEPR notes: “In the last few months, journalists from La Posta have accused Carrera of being at the center of a complex web of corruption. Carrera was first accused of being involved with false contracts in the energy sector. Then leaks of phone and chat conversations implicated Carrera in a cash-for-executive-appointments scheme, including appointments in ministerial positions. The murdered Cherres allegedly was the man tasked to run these schemes, which are now being investigated by the prosecutor general. … Lasso currently faces impeachment proceedings.”

CEPR’s Director of International Policy Alex Main added: “In light of mounting evidence of criminal behavior at the highest levels in Ecuador, the Biden administration should scrupulously avoid expressing positions that could be seen as attempts to shore up President Lasso. Instead, the Department of Justice should show that it takes corruption allegations seriously, no matter where they may emerge, and investigate Lasso and Carrera’s offshore holdings in the U.S.”

See full news release from CEPR for additional information on the murder and surrounding scandal. Also see “Impeachment trial begins against Ecuador’s President Lasso.”