Pandora Papers

Chile s Sebasti n Pi era faces impeachment bid after Pandora Papers

Chile s Sebasti n Pi era faces impeachment bid after Pandora Papers
Henry

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.

The president is accused of selling the firm to a friend in a deal contingent on a favourable regulatory decision.

He has denied any wrongdoing.

The revelations come from the Pandora Papers, a leak of 11.9 million documents. 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.

The leaks suggest the last payment in the deal was conditional on not establishing an area of environmental protection where the mining company operated, a demand of environmental groups.

The decision would be taken by the Chilean government which eventually decided against the introduction of the protection.

The data was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Washington DC, which has been working with more than 140 media organisations on its biggest ever global investigation.

BBC Panorama and the Guardian have led the investigation in the UK.

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.

The president himself has rejected any irregularities, saying the details of the deal were examined in a judicial investigation in 2017 that cleared him of wrongdoing.

But last week, Chile's public prosecutor's office said it would investigate the allegations against the 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 not commented yet on the impeachment bid.

The opposition-controlled Chamber of Deputies will now hold a vote on whether to approve or reject the impeachment process. The move comes ahead of presidential and legislative elections in November. President Piñera is not a candidate.

Pandora Papers banner

The Pandora Papers is a leak of almost 12 million documents and files exposing the secret wealth and dealings of world leaders, politicians and billionaires. The data was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in Washington DC which has led one of the the biggest ever global investigations.

More than 600 journalists from 117 countries have looked at the hidden fortunes of some of the most powerful people on the planet.

Pandora Papers coverage: Follow reaction on Twitter using #PandoraPapers, in the BBC News app, or watch Panorama on the BBC iPlayer (UK viewers only)

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