Infotech Pandora Papers: an open investigation against Chilean President Piñera

Pandora Papers: an open investigation against Chilean President Piñera

The Chilean prosecution announced, this Friday, October 8, the opening of an investigation against President Sebastian Piñera concerning the sale of a mining company by a company owned by his children, an operation cited in the Pandora Papers investigation.

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“The Attorney General (….) Has decided to open a criminal investigation into the facts associated with what is known as Pandora Papers and related to the purchase and sale of the mining company Dominga, in connection with the family of President Piñera ”Marta Herrera, head of the anti-corruption unit in the prosecutor’s office, told reporters.

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Sebastian Piñera, one of the political leaders appearing in the Pandora Papers, the investigation disclosed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), on Monday denied any conflict of interest in the sale of the mining company Dominga to a close friend .

$ 152 million sale

The sale took place in 2010 during the first term of the Chilean head of state (2010-2014), again in power since 2018.

“The Attorney General made this decision considering that these facts could constitute when the time comes corruption offenses, with their corollary in terms of bribes and possible tax offenses, questions that will all make the under investigation ‘, added Marta Herrera.

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Given “The seriousness of the facts under investigation”, the case will be handled by a regional prosecution, in this case that of Valparaiso (center), said the magistrate.

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According to an investigation by the Chilean media CIPER and LaBot, members of the ICIJ, the mining company Minera Dominga was sold to businessman Carlos Alberto Délano, a friend of the head of state, for 152 million dollars, a transaction made in the British Virgin Islands.

Payment for the transaction was to be made in three installments, and contained a controversial clause that made the final payment conditional “That an environmental protection zone is not established on the mining company’s operating area, as demanded by environmental groups”.

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According to the investigation, Sebastian Piñera’s government ultimately failed to protect the area where mining was planned, so the third payment was made.

The right-wing president, one of Chile’s richest men, said on Monday that he was unaware of the transaction because he no longer administered his property during his presidency.

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“The facts mentioned in this report are not new, they were made public by the media in 2017 and were also the subject of an in-depth investigation by the public prosecutor, a case closed by the courts”, defended Sebastian Piñera.

“The facts related to the sale and purchase of the mining company are not expressly included in the 2017 dismissal decision”, however, said Marta Herrera on Friday.

The open pit copper and iron mining project in the Atacama Desert (north), still awaiting a Supreme Court decision after appeals, also provides for the construction of an ore loading port at near a national reserve sheltering Humboldt penguins, an endangered species that only nest in Chile and Peru.

In early August, an environmental assessment commission approved the project despite protests from environmentalists, but still has to receive approval in the Council of Ministers.

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During his first term, Sebastian Piñera announced the cancellation of a project to build a thermoelectric power station to be installed near Minera Dominga. No further protective measures were taken.

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