“I was not informed”: Piñera disassociates himself from the operations revealed by the Pandora Papers amid a pre-electoral political storm

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The president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, assured that he was never informed or consulted about the sale of Minera Dominga, a firm in which he and his family had a majority of shares and for which they made millionaire profits, thanks to a transaction carried out through tax shelters and which was revealed by the international investigation baptized as the Pandora Papers.

“Since April 2009, more than 12 years ago, and before assuming my first presidency, I completely and totally detached myself from the administration and management of family businesses and of any other company in which they have participated, “said Piñera, this Monday amid the scandal generated by the work carried out by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

According to the president, during the first government he headed (2010-2014), and despite the fact that no law required it, he created blind trusts for the administration of all his financial assets, so since then he stopped having information about his companies , which began to be managed by their respective boards and a professional administration.

“The objective of these decisions was to face the presidential candidacy and the future presidency with total and absolute independence autonomy to be able to exercise the office of president with a single goal: to defend the common good, the interest of all Chileans and always respecting the constitution and the law, “he said to counter suspicions of tax evasion.

He also insisted that he never knew anything about the sale of Minera Dominga, that the operation was investigated in 2017 and that the Justice did not find any irregularity.

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“Neither my family nor I have investment companies abroad,” he stressed, assuring that the fact of being president has meant more personal harm than benefits, and despite the fact that he is still one of the richest men in Chile.

Suspicions

The work of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists revealed that the president participated in a million-dollar sale of Minera Dominga in the British Virgin Islands.

According to the documents published on the portal Cyprus, one of the Chilean media that participated in the investigation, Carlos Delano, one of Chile’s wealthiest businessmen and friend of the president, bought Minera Dominga in 2010, a firm in which the presidential family had a majority of shares. The payment was 152 million dollars in three installments through the British Virgin Islands.

The last quota depended on the absence of regulatory changes that would hinder the installation of the mine and its port, a decision that corresponded to the Government, which Piñera, who was already president, effectively complied. That decision is the one that would imply a conflict of interest.

The operation allowed investors, including the president’s family, to obtain a 1,000% profit in 18 months.

Piñera’s fortune has been the subject of numerous journalistic investigations that have discovered the creation of at least four companies in tax hideouts, of which he never spoke openly.

Claims

The presidential candidates who will participate in the elections on November 21 demanded that Piñera give explanations to society.

“The information that we have just learned is extremely serious. Sebastián Piñera evades taxes in tax havens and hides relevant information, “denounced Gabriel Boric, the standard-bearer of the leftist coalition I Approve Dignity, who heads the polls.

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In his opinion, this research shows that Piñera always privileges his personal interest over the common good, like the two candidates from the right, Sebastián Sichel (Chile Vamos, supported by the ruling party) and José Antonio Kast (Republican Party).

“That is why the changes that we propose are necessary in terms of public policies and also ethically. Furthermore, I cannot fail to mention that the Minera Dominga project it is an attack on the environment and a unique ecosystem that we have in Chile and that we must protect, “he said.

The center-left candidate Yasna Provoste (Constituent Unit) warned that Piñera must explain whether or not she used her position for her personal business. “It is inconceivable that a president acts for his own benefit, stopping environmental protection to ensure personal income,” he lamented.

The most radical was the leftist Marco Enríquez-Ominami (Progressive Party), who directly requested the resignation of the president considering that once again he has lied to Chilean society, while Kast limited himself to promoting an urgent investigation to determine whether or not there are responsibilities on Piñera’s part.

The last candidate who spoke out was Sichel, who is supported by the president, who insisted that the public ask for total transparency.

Defending

This morning, presidential spokesman Jaime Bellolio insisted that the sale of the mining company had already been investigated and clarified and attributed the accusations to a “political motivation” of characters who seek to gain prominence in electoral times.

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“The issue is what happens next with the parliamentarians who are desperate to maybe get a bit of notoriety and propose an undemocratic rule, which is that a president does not finish his term. Wanting to make a constitutional accusation is nothing more than a political advantage and unacceptable hit-and-run logic in a democracy, “he said.

On Sunday afternoon, the Government had already issued a statement in which it denied the complaint and assured that the case had already been clarified in a previous investigation.

“The Prosecutor’s Office recommended that the case be terminated due to the non-existence of a crime, to comply with the law and the lack of participation of President Sebastián Piñera in the aforementioned operation,” said the bulletin, which also assured that Piñera has not participated in more than a decade. the administration of any companies.

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