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Chilean lawmakers move to impeach president over revelations in Pandora Papers leaks

Chiles opposition this week moved to impeach President Sebastian Piñera after revelations included in the Pandora Papers shed new light on his offshore business deals.

Piñera, a billionaire businessman now serving his second term as president, has denied allegations of financial impropriety.

But lawmakers have homed in on documents detailing the 2010 sale of a mining company owned in part by Piñera's children. The company, Dominga, was sold for $138 million to an offshore firm controlled by the president's close friend, Chilean businessman Carlos Delano.

Last week, Chile's public prosecutor also announced an investigation into the deal, citing possible tax violations and bribery-related offenses. The Pandora Papers are a trove of more than 11.9 million documents exposing the secretive financial dealings of the world's elite.

On Wednesday, deputy Tomas Hirsch introduced the accusation against Piñera in the lower house of Congress - a motion known as a "constitutional accusation" that requires a two-thirds majority in both houses, including the Senate.

Piñera used "his office for personal business," Hirsch said as he presented the charge.

Gabriel Ascencio, a member of the Christian Democrats, also accused the president of exploiting his office to further his own interests "over the common good."

"Chile does not deserve to have a president like Piñera," Asencio said Wednesday.

The company sale was finalized nine months into Piñera's first term in 2010. But according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which obtained the leaks, the contract included a controversial clause that would halt the last payment if steps were taken to "irrevocably" prevent a mining project under consideration, such as an area of environmental protection.

Any such decision would fall under the authority of the president. According to the Pandora Papers, Piñera and his government decided at the time not to safeguard the area.

In recent remarks, Piñera rejected the accusations, insisting that he "completely and totally detached" himself from "the management and administration of family businesses."

He said that the sale was previously examined and dismissed by courts, adding that the details of the contract were already reviewed, Reuters reported.

Chile is holding presidential and legislative elections in November. Piñera is not running and his second term ends in March.

Published : October 15, 2021

By : The Washington Post