The Peruvian Prosecutor’s Office opens a preliminary investigation for influence peddling against Pedro Castillo | International

Pedro Castillo, president of Peru, during an event.
Pedro Castillo, president of Peru, during an event.CARLOS GARCIA GRANTHON / ZUMA PRESS (Europa Press)

Peru’s attorney general, Zoraida Ávalos, opened preliminary investigations into President Pedro Castillo for aggravated influence peddling and collusion by attributing him to have intervened “improperly and indirectly” in two million-dollar state contracts, and also for alleged interference in military promotions, he confirmed a statement from the Public Ministry on Tuesday night.

In October, the businesswoman and interest manager Karelim López accompanied executives from a couple of firms to the Government Palace who met with the former secretary general of the presidency, Bruno Pacheco, and with the president himself. Within days, these companies won a tender to build a bridge for about 60 million dollars, and a state purchase of biodiesel for more than 18 million dollars. The alarms about the lobbyist were activated in the press in November, which has been very attentive to the record of visits to the presidential office – publicly accessible – because the president has not given interviews since he took office at the end of July.

López has done business with the State throughout several governments and was a contributor to the electoral campaign of the Fuerza Popular candidate, Keiko Fujimori, in 2016, the digital media reported IDL-Reporters. Likewise, he tried to influence President Martín Vizcarra when he was ruling, but he did not succeed, indicates the same media. The contract for the purchase of biodiesel from Heaven Petroleum Operator by the state-owned company PetroPerú was concluded on October 21, three days after the meeting of the interest manager with Castillo; the manager of PetroPerú, Hugo Chávez; and the owner of the hydrocarbons firm, Samir Abudayeh, refers to the resolution of the prosecutor. This contract was annulled in December after the media scandal involving Castillo’s participation in a meeting with a businessman who claimed to be a supplier to the state.

Suspended proceedings

The head of the Public Ministry is the only one who can initiate a preliminary investigation of the head of state while he is in office, collecting evidence and testimonies from other parties and witnesses. She, or whoever succeeds her in office in April, may continue with the investigation, but not question Castillo while he is president. In October 2020, the attorney general discarded the tradition of the Public Ministry in relation to current presidents and found merit to initiate an investigation into then-president Martín Vizcarra, for irregular hiring in favor of a friend. In this case, the magistrate indicated that Vizcarra had exercised influence over other officials to favor his friend and that he also tried to influence the officials who would testify to the prosecutors in charge of that file.

The visits of the lobbyist to the former secretary of the presidency and the president were recorded in October on the Government Palace’s transparency platform, but a television channel recorded López in November entering a building in Lima where Castillo slept and dispatched until earlier. to assume power, and to which he would eventually return as president.

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In late November, the president commented in a televised message to the nation that he had only received “personal” visits there. “I strongly reject having any kind of participation in irregular acts that have favored any particular interest,” he added.

In December, attorney general Daniel Soria asked the presidency to report who the head of state met with in that house in the Breña district, but received no response, and for this reason he asked prosecutor Ávalos to investigate the president. The attorney general also initiated another investigation into Castillo for alleged pressure on military promotions, which could constitute the crimes of influence peddling and illegal patronage in favor of Army colonels from his environment. The press broadcast WhatsApp conversations of his former right-hand man Pacheco with the general commanders of armed institutes advocating for military officers, but also the former Defense Minister, Walter Ayala, made similar calls to military chiefs and had to resign due to the controversy. . But the president also consulted for a particular case regarding the ladder. Last week Castillo answered 40 questions, as a witness, for the prosecutorial investigation of Pacheco on the promotions, but since the resolution of the prosecutor, Ávalos has passed to the status of being investigated.

Three Peruvian media reported on the tax investigation to the president in mid-afternoon on Tuesday. The attorney for the head of state, Eduardo Pachas, told EL PAÍS that neither he nor his sponsor had been notified until 6:40 p.m. despite the fact that the press already had the fiscal disposition. Around 7:00 p.m., the Public Ministry reported that it had already notified the president.

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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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