The Chilean opposition presented this Wednesday, October 13, before the Chamber of Deputies the text of the constitutional accusation against President Sebastián Piñera in order to take him to a political trial that seeks his dismissal. The measure comes amid the allegations of alleged irregularities by the president in the sale of a mining megaproject, revealed in the ‘Pandora Papers’.
The continuity of President Sebastián Piñera falters after the publication of the ‘Pandora Papers’, the largest leak of financial data in tax havens that links leaders and leaders of at least 35 countries.
A committee made up of opposition legislators presented this Wednesday before the Lower House the formal accusation against the president that asks to take him to a political trial of dismissal for alleged corruption.
“The causes of this constitutional accusation are two: one, because the president has openly infringed the Constitution in relation to the principle of probity and, secondly, for seriously compromising the honor of the Nation”, explained the socialist deputy Jaime Naranjo, accompanied of representatives of all the opposition banks.
The alleged irregularities date back to 2010 during the sale of the Minera Dominga megaproject, then owned by the Piñera family, to their friend and businessman Carlos Alberto Délano.
The transaction had a total value of 152 million dollars, 138 million of them in an act signed in the tax haven of the Virgin Islands, as revealed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which in the Chilean case collaborated with the media ‘Ciper’ and ‘LaBot’.
In addition, the leak generated controversy because it indicates that the last installment of the payment was conditional on the area not being declared as an environmental protection area, despite the fact that the mine threatens a natural reserve with unique penguins.
Although this condition was not finally decreed, the decision depended on Piñera at a time when he assumed his first Presidency, between 2010 and 2014, something that his political opponents now refute.
Piñera would have “openly violated the Constitution (…) seriously compromising the honor of the nation,” said legislator Jaime Naranjo, one of the main promoters of the process against the president.
That transaction had already been previously examined and dismissed by the Chilean courts in 2017. Piñera argues that the review of all the details of the contract did not show any irregularities.
However, and after the ‘Pandora Papers’ put the Chilean president in the eye of the hurricane again, the Prosecutor’s Office of his country opened an investigation last week against him for alleged bribery and tax crimes.
The decision of the investigating body moved the waters among the opposition parliamentarians who consider it an impulse to obtain the necessary votes in the impeachment mechanism against the head of state.
How would the impeachment accusation against Piñera proceed?
According to Chilean law, the constitutional impeachment allows legislators to initiate a lawsuit against an authority, including the president, and unleash their removal or disqualification from holding public office.
But in order for the process to prosper, in the first place a vote must be carried out in the Chamber of Deputies, which must yield an absolute majority, with which it will be determined whether the accusation is viable or not. That is, it must have 78 votes.
Subsequently, the mechanism must go to the Senate, which in these cases acts as a jury to establish the guilt or innocence of the accused.
The local press points out that the imputation against Piñera will foreseeably obtain the necessary votes in the Lower House. However, it is not clear if he would win the endorsement in the Senate.
The accusatory document is expected to reach the Upper House before the presidential elections on November 21, in which, however, Piñera will not seek reelection.
With Reuters, EFE and local media