Chiles national public prosecutor has filed tax fraud, money laundering and bribery charges against top officials and financiers of a rightwing political party.
Sabas Chahuan, ordered that police immediately arrest Carlos Delano and Carlos Eugenio Lavin, who are controllers of the Penta Group, a financial holding company that claims some $30 billion in assets, according to The Guardian.
Evidence allegedly shows that top officials in the mining ministry were bribed by Penta officials, and millions of dollars in fake contracts illegally changed hands. It seems to be a continuation of the economic legacy of dictator Augusto Pinochet.
Accusation point to bribes from Penta executives in Chile
Penta executives issued hundreds of fake invoices in the name of their wives, secretaries and children as part of a scheme to avoid taxes and skirt campaign finance laws, according to prosecutors presenting the case at Wednesdays arraignment hearing.
What we have here, your honour, is an economic conglomerate with tax evasion as part of its culture, said prosecutor Carlos Gajardo in his closing statement. From the highest executive down to the last janitor, everyone submitted fake invoices The Penta corporation has evolved into a machine to defraud the state.
In his summary argument on Wednesday, Gajardo said investigators had found more than 1,000 fake documents.
The hearings were watched live by Chilean citizens around the country and sent a clear message that Chahuan is hell-bent on cracking down on corruption. The fact that he chose pre-trial detention is shocking because in Chile, even convicted torturers have been confined to prisons where they can still enjoy tennis courts, cable TV and tended lawns.
Delano and Lavin were also accused of funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to rightwing political candidates over the past decade.
“The Guardian” managed to speak with Lavín during a break in the arraignment hearing.
The prosecutor does not know Penta. He created his own novel that doesnt correspond to reality. I believe that I have been a notable businessman, all modesty aside, so to hear this kind of thing is tremendously unfortunate, out of place. He presents us like we were a mafia, as if we were Al Capone or something like that. And is it unfortunate to hear that.
Further arraignment hearings will be held on Thursday.