Piñera in Trouble

Piñera in Trouble
Fecha de publicación: 
6 November 2021
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Seeing him extremely worried, an imaginary being asked what was wrong, to which the aforementioned, who was none other than the Chilean president, Sebastián Piñera, replied: "Nothing, child, nothing", like Pachito Eché did, the inspirer of the mambo of the same name from the Cuban Dámaso Pérez Prado. The difference is that Pachito was popular, hardworking, and well-liked in his nation, Colombia, the complete opposite of Piñera.

Today the president is in trouble again, the third time that I remember, although now with more serious problems than in 2012 and 2016; with an acceptance below 10%, thousands of people demonstrating against his economic and social policy, asking for a constitutional change; and that he be prosecuted for his possible involvement in money laundering, as revealed by an exhaustive investigation by journalists and specialists called Pandora Papers.

Arranged by social and environmental organizations and the Chilean Student Confederation, the protesters have been rallying these days on the central avenues of the Chilean capital until stopping outside La Moneda Palace, where they also demanded the release of political prisoners from the riots in 2019.

“Enough of corruption”, “Come on, comrades, we came out to the streets again; Planet Earth is not for sale, it must be defended”, were some of the slogans shouted by protesters, who were always repressed at the end by police and the carabinieri.

This week, political parties presented at the Congress a constitutional accusation against President Piñera to be removed from office, after an international journalistic investigation accused the Chilean president of tax evasion in a tax haven and conflict of interest to support the so-called Dominga Project.

Led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Pandora Papers emerged as a journalistic investigative work focused on great world leaders and their economic actions.

With a leak of confidential files from 14 law firms specialized in the creation of companies in countries like Panama, the British Virgin Islands or Bahamas, more than 600 journalists from 117 countries have worked in the investigation, under the coordination of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) (Ciper and LaBot were the participating Chilean media).

DIRECT INVOLVEMENT

In this context, Piñera is summoned for having direct involvement with his actions and conflict of interest during his time in office, when approving the Dominga mining project, evading taxes in tax havens in the British Virgin Islands and also closing the sale, together with Carlos Alberto Deláno.

Based on the project, and always according to the Pandora Papers publication, it´s reported that the payment of Deláno's third installment would imply that the Piñera government would not declare the area where the project will be built as a natural reserve.

“Piñera and his family were originally the largest shareholders with 33.3% of the shares, and together with Deláno they monopolized 56% of the business… The distribution of shares was kept until December 2010, when Délano bought for 152 million dollars the percentage of all partners, including Piñera's. The operation was sealed with a document signed in Chile for 14 million dollars and another in the British Virgin Islands for 138 million dollars”, says the publication.

It´s added that “the amount had to be paid in three installments: on December 10th, 106.8 million dollars would be paid, and on January 18th another 21 million dollars. The balance would be pending until December 31st, 2011. This last payment, however, had one condition: it would only be made if the State didn´t declare the area where Dominga was to be developed as a natural reserve, as the environmentalists claimed at the time”.

As an official spokesperson denied the president's involvement, the Anticorruption director of the National Prosecutor's Office, Marta Herrera Seguel, mentioned that tax crimes, and bribery will be investigated.

She is the same prosecutor who has in her hands the case against the president and others accused of human rights violations during the social outbreak that occurred in the country between October 2019 and March 2020.

Former prosecutor Carlos Gajardo asserted that Piñera is looking at five years of incarceration for aiding and explained that the felony could be verified in case it was proven that the president knew had prior knowledge of the clause in the sale of Dominga and in that knowledge he didn´t declared as a reserve area the zone of the project.

The former prosecutor valued the decision of the Prosecutor's Office and made it clear that the fact of having signed a contract that establishes a condition that depended clearly on his decision, "may constitute a crime of bribery and, therefore, must be investigated."

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