Piñera sends written defense to commission studying impeachment

Santiago, Oct 29 (EFE).- Chile’s president Sebastián Piñera on Thursday sent his defense statement to the parliamentary commission in charge of a probe launched by the opposition in a bid to impeach the leader over details published in the Pandora Papers leak.

The document was sent after 11 pm and before the midnight deadline, sources from the Chamber of Deputies confirmed to Efe.

The review commission, made up of five of the 155 deputies, will receive the president’s lawyer, Jorge Gálvez Santibáñez, on Friday from 3 pm local time to explain the defense.

The genesis of the accusation lies in alleged irregularities in the sale of Dominga mining company, partially owned by Piñera’s children. The deal was carried out in the British Virgin Islands, a known tax haven, just nine months after he assumed office in 2010, according to the Panama Papers.

As reported by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the sale of the project to a company belonging to one of Piñera’s closest friends, Carlos Alberto Délano, was to take place in three installments, with the last one conditional on the government not establishing an area of environmental protection in the region of the mining company’s operations, as environmentalists were demanding.

Piñera did not establish a protected area at the site.

The president has defended in several public appearances that he dissociated himself from his businesses through blind trusts in 2009 and that what was revealed in Pandora Papers was already investigated and dismissed in 2017.

The ICIJ has reported that the current investigation involves new evidence.

The impeachment probe runs alongside a criminal investigation promoted by the public ministry that seeks to clarify possible tax crimes and bribery in the same financial operation.

After the appearance of Piñera’s lawyer, the commission has six days to issue a non-binding resolution on whether or not to proceed with the impeachment. A plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies is expected to vote on it next week or the following.

An absolute majority is required in the lower house, controlled by the opposition. If achieved, the process will go to the Senate, where two-thirds of the votes are needed to remove the president.

The objective is for the impeachment proceedings to reach the Senate before the presidential elections on Nov. 21, the most uncertain and momentous in recent times. EFE


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