Chile’s opposition has launched a bid to impeach President Sebastián Piñera over possible irregularities in the sale of a mining company, after details emerged in the Pandora Papers leak.
Mr Piñera used “his office for personal business”, congressman Tomas Hirsch said as he presented the accusation in the lower house of Congress.
In a transaction that was contingent upon a positive regulatory decision, the president of the company is charged with selling it to a friend.
He denied wrongdoing.
This information comes from 11.9million documents leaked by the Pandora Papers. The files say President Piñera sold the Dominga mine, a copper and iron project in an environmentally sensitive area, to a childhood friend in 2010, nine months after he had taken office.
Leaks indicate that one of the conditions of the previous payments was not to establish an area for environmental protection in which the mining company operated. That is, according to environmental groups.
Chilean officials would make the final decision, and eventually they decided not to introduce the protection.
International Consortium of Investigative Reporters (ICIJ), Washington DC, obtained the data. They have been working closely with 140 media outlets on their largest-ever global investigation.
The investigation was led by BBC Panorama and Guardian in the UK.
- EXPLAINER – A quick guide to the leakage of Pandora Papers
- CONTEXT – Your guide through nine years worth of financial leaks
After the revelations, the Chilean presidency said President Piñera, a billionaire businessman, had no role in, or information about, the sale of the mining project, and that he had not been involved in the management of any company for more than 12 years.
According to the president, there were no irregularities in the agreement. He stated in his own words that details of it were examined by the court in 2017. This cleared him from any wrongdoing.
Last week Chile’s Public Prosecutor stated that it will investigate allegations made against President.
Opposition congressman Jaime Naranjo, one of the authors of the impeachment proceeding, said President Piñera had “openly infringed the Constitution… seriously compromising the honour of the nation”.
The President has yet to comment on the impeachment attempt.
The opposition-controlled Chamber of Deputies will now hold a vote on whether to approve or reject the impeachment process. This move is made ahead of November’s presidential and legislative elections. President Piñera is not a candidate.
Nearly 12,000,000 documents and files were leaked in the Pandora Papers leak, which exposes secret riches and deals of politicians, world leaders and billionaires. This data was obtained from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalismists, Washington DC. They have led one of largest ever global investigations.
Over 600 journalists representing 117 different countries examined the secret fortunes of some the world’s most influential people.
Pandora Papers coverage– Follow the reaction using Twitter #PandoraPapers in the BBC News App or view Panorama on BBC iPlayer for UK viewers (only)