The Chilean Senate decided on Tuesday not to remove President Sebastian Pinera, who was suspected of having a conflict of interest in selling a mining company in 2010 in a tax haven, a case that has returned to the public Pandora Papers journalistic research.
The vote ended the process of adjournment and referral to a trial approved by Parliament last week, where the opposition has a majority.
In the Senate, although the opposition also dominates the body, a two-thirds majority, or 29 votes, was required to oust the head of state. In the end, however, only 24 senators, all from the opposition, voted in favor of his ouster, 18 opposed and one member abstained.
“The defense has categorically disproved the allegations in this politically motivated process,” said Sen. Francisco Chauan, a close ally of conservative President Pinera.
Mr Piniera’s defense attorney, Jorge Galves, assured at the start of the special session of the Senate that the indictment “lacks” any “foundation”, either in “facts” or “case law”.
The process followed the revelations of the so-called Pandora Papers, an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
According to the investigation, the mining company Minera Dominga was sold in 2010 by a company owned by the children of the head of state to Carlos Alberto Delano, a personal friend of the president, for $ 152 million, a transaction that took place in the British Virgin Islands.
The payment for the sale would be made in three installments; the agreement contained a controversial clause, linking the repayment of the last installment to the condition that “no environmental protection zone would be created in the company’s exploitation zone”, as required by environmental organizations.
According to the investigation, the government of Sebastian Pinera actually decided not to take measures to protect the area where the exploitation was to take place and the repayment was actually completed.
Former Socialist President Michelle Bachelet (2006-2010), who was succeeded by Mr Piέραera, had proposed protecting this area with great biodiversity, a habitat for the Humboldt penguins, an endangered species found only in Chile and Peru. .
The right-wing president, one of the richest people in Chile, saw in the Pandora Papers accusations based on “lies” and reminded that in 2017 there had already been an “in-depth investigation by the prosecutor” and “the case is considered over for justice”, which had been acquitted.
However, announcing that a new criminal investigation will begin in early October, the prosecutor’s office countered that some of the events related to the sale of the mining company “were not explicitly included” in the case file when it was decided to enter the drawer in 2017.
The end of the trial against Mr Piniera came just 24 hours before voters were called to the polls to nominate his successor and renew the composition of parliament on Sunday (November 21st). According to the Constitution, Mr. Piιera did not have the right to run again. His term will end in March.
Source From: Capital