Chilean President Piñera risks impeachment after Pandora documents leak | Chile

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Opposition politicians have launched impeachment proceedings against Chilean President Sebastián Piñera over possible irregularities in the sale of a mining company, after new details of the deal were revealed in Pandora newspapers .

Lawmakers cited an “ethical duty” to hold the president accountable for alleged irregularities in his involvement in the controversial Dominga project.

Earlier this month, the Chilean prosecution announced it would open an investigation into possible charges of corruption and tax offenses related to the sale, which ended in the British Virgin Islands.

The move is the latest blow for center-right Piñera as he nears the end of a turbulent four-year tenure. Presidential and legislative elections are scheduled for November, with polls suggesting left-wing candidates are likely to gain ground.

Pandora Newspapers – the largest mine of leaked offshore data in history – have revealed new details about the controversial mining deal.

Quick guide

What are Pandora papers?

Spectacle

Pandora Journals are the largest trove of leaked data revealing the secrets of tax havens in history. They provide a rare window into the hidden world of offshore finance, shedding light on the financial secrets of some of the richest people in the world. The files were leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which shared access with the Guardian, the BBC and other media outlets around the world. In total, the treasury consists of 11.9 million files disclosed by a total of 14 offshore service providers, totaling 2.94 terabytes of information. This makes it bulkier than the Panama Papers (2016) and Paradise Papers (2017), two previous offshore leaks.

Where do Pandora documents come from?

The ICIJ, a Washington DC-based nonprofit journalism organization, does not identify the source of the leaked materials. To facilitate a global investigation, the ICIJ gave remote access to the documents to journalists from 117 countries, including reporters from the Washington Post, Le Monde, El País, Süddeutsche Zeitung, PBS Frontline and the ‘Australian Broadcasting Corporation. In the UK, the survey was carried out by the Guardian and BBC Panorama.

What is an offshore service provider?

The 14 offshore service providers in the leak provide corporate services to individuals or companies looking to do business abroad. Their clients typically seek to quietly set up companies or trusts in poorly regulated tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Panama, the Cook Islands, and the US state of South Dakota. Companies registered abroad can be used to hold assets such as real estate, airplanes, yachts, and equity and equity investments. By holding these assets in an offshore company, it is possible to hide from the rest of the world the identity of the person to whom they actually belong, or of the “beneficial owner”.

Why do people move money overseas?

Usually for tax, secrecy or regulatory reasons. Offshore jurisdictions tend to have no income or corporate taxes, which makes them potentially attractive to wealthy individuals and businesses who do not want to pay taxes in their home country. While morally questionable, this type of tax evasion can be legal. Offshore jurisdictions also tend to be very secretive and publish little or no information about the companies or trusts incorporated there. This can make them useful to criminals, such as tax evaders or money launderers, who need to hide money from tax or law enforcement authorities. It is also true that inhabitants of corrupt or unstable countries may use offshore vendors to put their assets out of the reach of repressive governments or criminal adversaries who may attempt to seize them, or seek to circumvent hard currency restrictions. . Others may go abroad for inheritance or estate planning reasons.

Did everyone named in Pandora logs do something wrong?

No. Moving money abroad is not illegal in itself, and there are legitimate reasons some people do. Not all of those named in Pandora Diaries are suspected of wrongdoing. Those who are can be accused of a wide range of misconduct: from morally questionable to potentially criminal. The Guardian only publishes stories based on leaked documents after considering the public interest. This is a broad concept which may include improving transparency by revealing the secret offshore owners of UK property, even when those owners have done nothing wrong. Other articles could shed light on issues of important public debate, raise moral questions, shed light on how the offshore industry works, or help educate voters about politicians or donors in the interests of accountability. democratic.

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Piñera’s family sold their stake in the Dominga mining project in 2010 to their close friend and business partner, Carlos Alberto Délano. Pandora Papers’ investigation found evidence to suggest that the third installment of the payment contained a clause requiring the government not to strengthen environmental protections in the proposed area for the mine in northern Chile.

Jaime Naranjo, a left-wing lower house lawmaker and one of the driving forces behind the impeachment process, said Piñera had “openly violated the constitution … seriously compromising the honor of the nation”.

Piñera, whose fortune stands at $ 2.5 billion according to Forbes magazine, dismissed the charges and argued that no irregularities were found in the deal.

Amid scrutiny of his cases, Piñera on Monday announced a state of emergency in four southern provinces of the country where tensions are high between the Mapuche people, Chile’s largest indigenous group, and the police and powerful landowners. Unrest has rocked the region since the 2018 police murder of an unarmed Mapuche man – and the cover-up that followed – sparked protests of anger across the country.

The new measures will restrict movement and the right to assembly following the recent arson attacks, and further increase the military and police presence in the area. Indigenous activists have questioned the timing and purpose of the measure, announced on the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas.

They say the state of emergency, which will last for 15 days but can be extended to 30 days, was enacted to cynically distract from the president’s inquiries.

Piñera is also still under pressure because of the brutal crackdown on anti-inequality protests in 2019 and 2020. His former Home Secretary, Andrés Chadwick, was indicted by congress at the height of the protests in December 2019, and Piñera himself narrowly avoided impeachment in a similar vote days later.

In April, Baltasar Garzón – the Spanish judge who worked to hold dictator Gen Augusto Pinochet accountable for crimes committed during his 1973-1990 regime – filed a charge at the International Criminal Court in The Hague alleging Piñera’s complicity in crimes alleged human rights abuses during the unrest. The president denied any wrongdoing.

The president’s latest impeachment motion could be passed in Congress before the first round of Chilean legislative elections on November 21. If approved by the lower house, it passes to the Senate, where it must be approved by a two-thirds majority if Piñera is to be removed from office.


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