In Chile, opposition deputies presented an indictment in Congress on Wednesday to remove the president Sebastian Piñera, for its alleged connection with the sale of a mining company in a tax haven, which was revealed in the Pandora Papers. The accusation is for “lacking probity and compromising the honor of the nation” for the sale in 2010 – during his first term – of Minera Dominga, by a family business.

Now, the Chamber of Deputies, controlled by the opposition, must decide whether to approve or reject the accusation. The vote will take place the first week of November, as reported AFP from parliamentary sources.

For the deputy Tomás Hirsch, who presented the accusation in the Lower House – the first step in the impeachment process that could last several weeks – Piñera “used his position for personal business.” This constitutional accusation joins a criminal investigation opened by the Prosecutor’s Office five days ago for the same operation.

In case of advancing in Deputies, the cause would go to the Senate. The impeachment process in Congress is expected to be defined before the November 21 elections, in which the congress will be renewed and the next president will be elected, since Piñera’s second term ends on March 11.

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The indictment in the wake of the Pandora Papers reveal

The publication of Pandora Papers placed Sebastián Piñera, 71 years old and one of the richest men in Chile, at the center of the scene, who defended himself by alleging who left business administration in 2009, before assuming his first government, so he did not participate in the sale of Dominga.

According to an investigation by local media CIPER and LaBot, part of the Pandora Papers of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Minera Dominga was sold to businessman Carlos Alberto Délano, Piñera’s close friend, for 152 million dollars, a business partly sealed in the British Virgin Islands.

The payment for the operation had to be made in three installments, and contained a controversial clause that made the last payment conditional on “not establishing an environmental protection area over the mining area of ​​operations, as claimed by environmental groups.” The Piñera government, according to the investigation, finally did not protect the mine area, so the third payment was made.

In his defense, the government accused the opposition of presenting “an accusation without legal basis” in search of political gain. “It is the dirtiest of the electoral campaign”, affirmed the spokesman minister, Jaime Bellolio, who insisted on the innocence of Piñera.

The mining project, approved by a regional court but pending resources by the Supreme Court, includes the exploitation of two open-pit mines – iron and copper – in the Atacama desert, in the Coquimbo region, 500 km from north of Santiago.

It also includes the construction of a mineral loading port near an archipelago where there is a national reserve that contains 80% of the Humboldt penguin species, in addition to other protected species.

His predecessor, the socialist Michelle Bachelet, worked during her tenure to convert that area into a National Park and thus avoid any activity that would put it in danger.

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The next steps after Piñera’s impeachment request

Fernandez Piñera 20210127

After the presentation of the accusation, the Lower House formed by lottery a five-member investigative commission, which will prepare a report recommending or rejecting the dismissal request. The group was made up of two pro-government deputies and three opponents, among them the socialist Maya Fernández, granddaughter of former president Salvador Allende (1970-1973).

Sebastián Piñera, for his part, can present his discharges in person or in writing.

Regardless of the opinion of the commission, the cause must be debated and voted on by the plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies, where the opposition has a comfortable majority with 83 of the 155 seats. If it reaches the Senate, two-thirds of the votes are required to remove the president.

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