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Ecuador firefighters’ pension payments cut amid corruption scandal

The head of Ecuador’s firefighters union says the government has cut their pension payments amid allegations that they received bribes from mining company Vale.

The head of the union, Sergio J. Gonzalez, told reporters Friday that Ecuador’s fire department, which was recently awarded the second highest number of firefighting awards in Latin America, had lost $30 million of the $70 million it was expected to receive as part of a corruption investigation.

Gonzalez said Vale officials had assured him that the company would pay the pensioners at least 50 percent of their pension.

He said he had not received any further assurances.

Gale Aguiar, Vale’s general secretary, told Al Jazeera the company was cooperating with investigators.

“We’re fully cooperating with the investigations.

We’re also going to cooperate with the judicial authorities,” Aguiad said.

The union’s chief executive, Carlos Rodriguez, said Vale had offered to pay the pensions, but the government had refused.

“They are being denied, by the government, their right to receive pension money, which they are entitled to,” Rodriguez said.

Vale, the world’s largest miner, has denied the allegations.