President Sebastian Pinera dismisses Pandora Papers report linking it to the controversial sale of a mining company in 2010.
Opposition lawmakers in Chile have launched impeachment proceedings against President Sebastian Pinera for the controversial sale of a mining company through a company owned by his children, after new details emerged in the Pandora Papers leaked.
Pinera used “his office for personal matters,” Congressman Tomas Hirsch said on Wednesday as he presented the charge to the lower house of Congress, the first step in an impeachment process that could take several weeks .
This decision comes after the prosecutor of Chile said this month he would open an investigation into possible charges of bribery-related corruption, as well as tax offenses related to the 2010 sale of the Dominga mine, which took place during Pinera’s first term.
The probe was triggered by the Pandora Papers leaked, a vast mine of reports on the hidden wealth of world leaders sought by the International Consortium of Journalists (ICIJ).
The Pandora Papers have linked Pinera to the sale of Dominga, a sprawling copper and iron project, through a company owned by his children, to businessman Carlos Delano – a close friend of the president – For $ 152 million.
He said much of the operation was carried out in the British Virgin Islands.
In addition, he said a controversial clause had been included that made the company’s last payment conditional on “not establishing an environmental protection zone in the mining company’s area of operations, such as the demand environmental groups “. This decision falls within the competence of the Chilean President.
Pinera, one of Chile’s richest people, denied any wrongdoing, saying the sale had already been reviewed and rejected by the courts in 2017. “As President of Chile, I never, ever carried out any action or management related to Dominga Mining. , he said last week.
But another opposition Chilean lawmaker, Jaime Naranjo, one of the driving forces behind the impeachment process, said Pinera had “openly violated the Constitution … seriously compromising the honor of the nation”.
From now on, Chile’s opposition-controlled Chamber of Deputies will have to decide whether to approve or reject the indictment. A vote that will take place the first week of November, congressional sources told AFP news agency.
If given the green light, the case will pass to the Senate, which will have to serve as a jury to seal Pinera’s fate.
The controversy arose before the presidential and legislative elections in November.
Pinera’s second term, which began in March 2018, is expected to end next March. He will step down deeply unpopular after his right-wing coalition suffered a shock defeat in an election in May for a constituent assembly responsible for rewrite the country’s constitution.
The impeachment push came a day later Pinera declared a state of emergency in two regions of southern Chile where conflict is intensifying with the indigenous Mapuche peoples – who demand the restoration of their ancestral lands and more autonomy.
“We have decided to call for a state of emergency” in four provinces in the southern regions of Biobio and Araucania, as well as to deploy troops to help control “serious disturbances to public order”, the president said in a speech on Tuesday.
Lucia Newman of Al Jazeera, in a report from Santiago, said that Mapuche armed groups “have become more and more daring” and have “committed arson, sabotage, [and] to appropriate land ”.
“The president has been under enormous pressure for months from conservatives in his own party and other groups, including truck drivers, to call for a siege stage in Araucanía, but he has been reluctant to do so so far, “Newman said.