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Former Peruvian president wanted for corruption to remain in custody

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 17, 2016, former President of Peru Alejandro Toledo speaks during a discussion on Venezuela and the OAS at The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC.Toledo, who is accused of corruption in a case related to Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, was arrested on July 16, 2019, in US after an extradition request by Peru's authorities. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

Los Angeles (AFP) - A US federal judge on Friday ordered that former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo remain in custody pending the outcome of extradition proceedings against him related to corruption charges in his home country.

Judge Thomas Hixson handed down his decision at a bail hearing for the 73-year-old who has been living in the US and who is suspected of involvement in the sprawling Odebrecht scandal in which the construction giant paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes throughout the continent to secure huge public works contracts.

Toledo allegedly received a $20 million payment from Odebrecht to grant it the tender to build the Interoceanic Highway that links Peru with Brazil.

He is accused of influence peddling, collusion and money laundering to the detriment of the Peruvian state.

According to press reports, Toledo, who was president from 2001-2006, had a suitcase with $40,000 in cash when arrested on Tuesday at his home in northern California, which prosecutors argued constituted a flight risk.

His next hearing in relation to the extradition case, which could take six months, is scheduled for July 26.

Peruvian prosecutors opened an investigation into Toledo and two other former presidents -- Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and Alan Garcia -- in June 2018.

Garcia committed suicide in April after police arrived at his house to arrest him for money laundering.

Kuczynski, who is 80 and underwent heart surgery in May, is being held under house arrest, also accused of money laundering.

A fourth former president, Ollanta Humala and his wife Nadine Heredia were indicted in May for allegedly laundering assets.