AYSÉN – Prosecutors are presenting charges against 800 Chilean soldiers for defrauding the Army of CLP$3 billion. A two-year investigation indicates the soldiers received improper payments and benefits. The defense insists that those involved only sought to help retired soldiers.
The Regional prosecutor of Aysén, Carlos Palma, is charging 800 soldiers with fraud. After a two-year investigation, the prosecutor’s office discovered that numerous soldiers, both retired and on active duty, received payments for jobs that never existed. The payments add up to about CLP$3 billion, equivalent to about US$4.1 million dollars.
The defense attorney has issued a statement saying that it was only an attempt to help officers who had been negatively affected by the closure of the Fondo de Ayuda Mutua (Mutual Aid Fund) in 2006, which left numerous soldiers without the money they had initially invested.
Fixing Past Mistakes
The Fondo de Ayuda Mutua was a mutual fund created in 1950 to aid retired officers. When soldiers enlisted, they would begin depositing money into the fund which would be returned when they retired.
In 2006, the fund was closed after an investigation determined that several superior officers had lost the money from the funds and had repaid the money by charging the state for fake trips. The fund was closed without compensation to those soldiers who had yet to withdraw their deposits and whose money had been lost.
To remedy the situation, the Army paid these soldiers for jobs that never existed, thus using public funds to pay back the debts the Army had with their soldiers. For these reasons, the defense attorney, Lorenzo Avilés, said “The good intention, let’s give back the money to the people who have been loyal to the country; the bad decision, lets pay it back with public resources.”
In an interview with El Mercurio, Palma said that of the 800 charged, more than 500 are retired and 270 are on active duty. He added that they still have a lot to process and that each soldier will have a different penalty according to the soldier’s individual involvement in the fraud.
The penalty for defrauding the state depends on both the amount of money taken and the number of times it was taken. With the current accusations, those responsible are facing approximately five years in prison.
Diego Rivera is currently a senior in University, finishing up his audiovisual degree. You can find him on Twitter as @Piover45.