November 29, 2021

Chilean President Sebastian Piñera escapes impeachment

The Senate of Chile voted on Tuesday, November 16, against the dismissal of President Sebastian Piñera, suspected of a conflict of interest in the sale of a mining company in 2010. The affair had been revealed by the “Pandora Papers”.

This vote puts an end to the impeachment procedure that was approved last week by the Chamber of Deputies, where the opposition has a majority. In the Senate, also dominated by the opposition, a two-thirds majority, or 29 votes, was needed. However, only 24 senators voted for impeachment, 18 against and one abstained.

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“The defense categorically dismantled each of the facts set out in the reasons for this political trial”, welcomed the pro-Piñera senator Francisco Chahuan. The lawyer for the head of state, Jorge Galvez, said at the start of the session in the Senate that the accusation was “Devoid of any factual and legal basis”.

The procedure was triggered after revelations from the “Pandora Papers”, an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). According to these documents, the mining company Minera Dominga was sold in 2010 by a company owned by the children of the head of state to a businessman, friend of the president, for 152 million dollars, a transaction carried out in the Virgin Islands. British.

He cannot apply for his own succession

Payment for the transaction was to be made in three installments and contained a controversial clause that made the final payment conditional on no environmental protection zone being established on the mining company’s operating area. According to the investigation, Sebastian Piñera’s government ultimately failed to protect the area where mining was planned, so the third payment was made. Socialist President Michelle Bachelet (2006-2010), who had succeeded Mr. Piñera, had nevertheless recommended that the area rich in biodiversity which is home to a colony of Humboldt penguins, an endangered species, be protected.

The right-wing president, who is also one of Chile’s richest men, had denounced an accusation based on “On false or misleading facts” and considered that the case had already been judged in 2017 and is the subject of a dismissal. At the opening of a new criminal investigation in early October, the prosecution had however argued that the facts related to the sale and purchase of the mining company “Were not expressly included” in the decision of non-suit.

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The end of the impeachment procedure against Mr. Piñera comes a few days before the November 21 elections in which a new president will be appointed, and the Parliament renewed. Mr Piñera cannot be a candidate for his own succession, but his term is far from over, with a probable run-off on December 19 and a handover of power on March 11, 2022.

What are the “Pandora Papers”?

“Pandora Papers” is a collaborative investigation led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in partnership with 150 international media, including The world. It is based on the leak of nearly 12 million confidential documents, transmitted by an anonymous source to the ICIJ, from the archives of fourteen firms specializing in the creation of offshore companies in tax havens (British Virgin Islands, Dubai, Singapore, Panama, Seychelles…).

Five years after the “Panama Papers”, the survey reveals the extent of the abuses of the offshore industry and its limited companies. She shows how this system benefits hundreds of policymakers, and how new tax havens are taking over as old ones convert to transparency.

To read : Article reserved for our subscribers “Pandora Papers”: a world dive into the secrets of offshore finance

The World with AFP