Ecuador files the investigations against Lasso by the ‘Pandora Papers’ | The ‘Pandora Papers’

Guillermo Lasso attends a meeting last Saturday in Quito.
Guillermo Lasso attends a meeting last Saturday in Quito.JOHANNA ALARCON (Reuters)

Guillermo Lasso is a president of confluences. In the same week, the scandal of the Pandora Papers, to have a massacre with dozens of dead in a jail and a boycott by the Assembly of the core laws to move Ecuador forward. But everything can also come together in your favor. This Tuesday, the National Assembly and the State Comptroller General’s Office have agreed to shelve investigations into the possessions that the Ecuadorian president has had in tax havens.

The entity that oversees public officials has concluded in the middle of the afternoon that there are no indications that the head of state is not complying with the law that prohibits him from having assets in territories with better taxation than the Ecuadorian and therefore has archived the file. At night it was the Assembly that buried the case of the Pandora Papers. The legislative plenary session did not add enough votes to approve the report that led to his dismissal for having generated “a serious political crisis or commotion” with the appearance of documents that linked him to companies offshore in Panama and the United States.

In the global investigation coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), in which EL PAÍS participated, it was stated that Lasso had resorted to up to 14 opaque financial companies in Panama and the United States, which he disposed of before presenting himself for the elections for president.

The debate of more than four hours was preceded by another marathon session to read the reflections of the commission that dealt with the matter and ended with two votes of insufficient majority. The motion of Paola Cabezas, an assembly member of the Union for Hope bloc, which represents the interests of Correísmo, garnered 51 supporters, 77 rejections and seven abstentions. It did not have a sufficient majority for approval. A second motion by the president of the Constitutional Guarantees Commission, which was the committee that investigated and prepared the dismissal report, obtained more affirmative than negative votes but did not reach the 70 that were needed.

As much as the opposition benches invoked the moral incoherence of the Ecuadorian president – “Who is going to defend a president who has violated the law of the ethical pact,” replied the opposition Mónica Palacios -, the arguments in favor of the president weighed more. “It is the largest tax payer,” said the official Diego Ordóñez.

What the hemicycle did agree on is to request more explanations from Lasso, who was summoned twice by the Assembly and responded in writing to requests for information, inviting the assembly members to visit and interview him at the Carondelet palace, in Quito. “I have nothing to hide from the country,” he defended himself in October when the controversy broke out. The legislative session on Tuesday was extended after addressing the main issue to urge President Lasso to appear before the Plenary and explain his relationship with assets and companies in tax havens, this proposal did achieve sufficient support with 82 votes.

The Assembly did not have enough force to attack the Chief Executive and the Comptroller, for its part, it concluded in its special report by the Pandora Papers that “it did not find objective elements that demonstrate that Mr. Guillermo Lasso, on the dates of registration of the candidacy for President of the Republic of Ecuador and of holding that position, had violated the norms.” Once the two avenues of investigation are archived, only the file of the State Attorney General’s Office remains open, initiated before a complaint by the former presidential candidate Yaku Pérez for the documentation leaked at the international level.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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