Chilean President Faces Impeachment Over Pandora Papers Findings

Chilean legislators voted to impeach President Sebastián Piñera after revelations in the Pandora Papers showed that he had a potential conflict of interest related to the sale of shares in a mining company from his children to a close associate.


534px-Retrato Oficial Presidente Piñera 2018 cropped7Chilean President Sebastián Piñera Echenique (By Gobierno de Chile, CC BY 3.0)“With 78 votes in favor, 67 against and 3 abstentions, the Chamber of Deputies approves the [constitutional accusation] against the president,” the Chilean Chamber of Deputies announced in a tweet on Monday. 

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists said in a report that the shares were sold in December 2010, nearly nine months into Piñera’s first term as president, for US$138 million, to be paid in three installments. 

However, the deal contained a contingency that could have political ramifications. The final installment of $9.9 million would not be made if any steps were taken that would irrevocably prevent a mining project. 

Before the deal Piñera had a history of defending environmental interests, shutting down a proposed thermoelectric plant in a nature preserve only months before that deal was made.

Despite efforts and appeals by environmental activists to protect the mining site, Piñera remained mum on the topic. 

For his supporters, that’s not enough to prove wrongdoing. 

“There isn’t a single piece of evidence,” said Piñera’s attorney Jorge Gálvez, which would link the president to wrongdoing, according to ICIJ.

“There cannot be a purely political hearing to remove the president of the republic,” he said during the Impeachment hearing which began with a 14-hour filibuster.

Chilean authorities began investigating Piñera only days after the papers were published. 

“I want it to be an example and testimony that this parliament is capable of putting an end to the abuses, to the impunity with which this government has acted,” said opposition leader Jaime Naranjo, during his 14 hour filibuster at the hearing. 

Piñera was one of three Latin American leaders who were named in the papers.