Peruvian Ruling Party Hit by New Corruption Scandal

Peruvian police arrested a former government official suspected of being part of a group that illegally sold driver’s licenses to collect money for the ruling party. The operation raised suspicions about official party links to corruption.

Pedro Castillo PeruPresidential campaign of the Peruvian President Pedro Castillo was allegedly financed with money earned through the sale of illegally issued driver’s licenses. (Photo: Presidencia de la República del Perú/Youtube screenshot, Wikimedia, License)Authorities arrested Waldys Rumualdo Vilcapoma Manrique in his home on Sunday night. He had been under the radar since October last year, when a Peruvian court ordered his arrest. Officers spotted him through the window of his house as he was celebrating his birthday on April 1st. The arrest came two days later.

The Office of the Attorney General alleges that Vilcapoma Manrique, a former official in a regional government, was part of a network that allegedly funded the last Pedro Castillo presidential campaign with money earned through the sale of illegally issued driver’s licenses, local media reported.

Vilcapoma Manrique was one of the aids of Vladimir Cerrón, the governor of Junín region, who allegedly led the criminal group, Vilcapoma Manrique had been in charge of organizing, planning and directing all the driving license affairs.

Earlier last year, Cerrón texted Vilcapoma Manrique on WhatsApp, “my friend, according to your commitment, tomorrow we have to pay 50%. The party will appreciate your contribution.” In less than two weeks Vilcapoma Manrique handed over the equivalent of US$1,000.

Authorities believe that about 40 members of this network were split in four groups carrying out other illicit operations, which was the case of the national secretary Arturo Cárdenas Tovar, whose role would have been to only employ people tied to the Peru Libre party in the public sector. He was arrested on Monday.

Both the driver’s license operation and the recruitment of people were the main sources of income of the criminal group which then used the party to contribute to Castillo’s presidential campaign, prosecutors told local media.

These allegations levied against former officials in the local government of Cerrón, who is a close ally of Castillo, fuel long standing suspicions of corruption and criminal ties within the party and the government. In less than one year in office, Castillo survived two impeachment votes in Congress.

Although this allowed him to stay president, Castillo’s popularity has been falling rapidly amid corruption allegations and social unrest. On top of that, he is being hit by this investigation against the alleged criminal group led by Cerrón.