QUITO (Reuters) - A local judge in Ecuador on Friday ordered preventive prison for a former oil minister on grounds of bribery amid an investigation into a $12 million corruption scandal in the Andean country's state oil company. Ecuador's public prosecutor's office has accused Carlos Pareja, an ally of President Rafael Correa, of receiving $1 million dollars for allegedly helping companies get contracts with Petroecuador. Sixteen other people have been accused in the ongoing case.

Reuters was not immediately able to contact Pareja, who Ecuador's public prosecutor has said left the country on Sept. 28.

(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Mary Milliken)