SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chile’s public prosecutor said on Friday it would open an investigation into the sale of a mining project involving the family of President Sebastian Pinera after new details emerged about the transaction in the Pandora papers leak.
Marta Herrera, head of the office’s anti-corruption unit, said the agency would investigate possible bribery-related corruption charges as well as tax violations.
The “Pandora Papers” are a cache of leaked documents that The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists say reveal offshore transactions involving global political and business figures. Among them are documents https://projects.icij.org/investigations/pandora-papers/power-players/en/player/sebastian-pinera that appear to outline a deal involving the sale of the Dominga mine, a sprawling copper and iron project that activists have long said would cause undue environmental harm.
The leak stirred controversy in Chile because it suggested the sale of the property, which involved a firm linked to Pinera’s family, was contingent on a favorable regulatory environment.
At the time, Pinera, a billionaire businessman, was in his first year of his first term in office.
Pinera earlier this week rejected the allegations in a televised statement and said that the details of the 2010 agreement were part of a prior judicial investigation that cleared him of wrongdoing.
Herrera said the new investigation would look more closely at the specifics of the deal related to Dominga, noting that the contract, signed in the British Virgin Islands, was not in the original case file, although a pre-agreement that outlined the conditions had been available to prosecutors previously.
The investigation will determine if the leaks include new information on the deal’s terms that could constitute a crime.
Opposition lawmakers in Chile have said they will seek to launch impeachment hearings against Pinera over the Dominga case and the latest revelations.
(Reporting by Fabian Cambero, writing by Dave Sherwood, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)