Chile’s President to Be Investigated After Pandora Revelations
(Bloomberg) -- Chile’s beleaguered billionaire president has another challenge to deal with in the last months of his mandate: criminal investigations related to the sale, more than a decade ago, of a stake his family had in a mining project.
The country’s public prosecutor announced Friday that it would investigate Sebastian Pinera for possible bribery or tax crimes after the massive leak of legal documents known as the Pandora papers revealed a contract signed in the British Virgin Islands that relates to the 2010 sale of a stake in the Dominga iron ore project by Pinera’s family.
The document included a clause that a pending payment would depend on the project’s surrounds not having any zoning changes such as being included in a nature reserve. The project is near an island that harbors a rare penguin species as well as whale populations, with environmentalists pushing for years to declare it a protected area.
Read More: President’s Candidate May Bear Brunt of Pandora Fallout
Earlier this week, Pinera said he transferred management of his investments to a blind trust in 2009, before his first term as president from 2010 to 2014. The investor-turned-politician said he wasn’t informed of the sale, adding that he was acquitted in 2017 in the same case.
“The contract signed in the British Virgin Islands was not incorporated into the investigation at that time, so we could say that it is new information,” said the director of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Unit, Marta Herrera.
Earlier Friday, a court in Santiago said it would admit a separate criminal case against Pinera.
Pinera’s approval ratings tumbled after his center-right government found itself in the firing line of one of the biggest protest movements since the country’s return to democracy, with the ruling coalition’s candidate slipping in the polls in recent weeks.
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