Corruption Allegations Threaten Communist Presidential Hopes

RECOLETA – Presidential hopeful and mayor of Santiago’s Recoleta district, Daniel Jadue, is being investigated over alleged illegal payments. His Communist Party has called the investigation a smear job. The probe started after his rival, the right-wing mayor of Providencia district, Evelyn Matthei, alleged a street lighting firm of corrupt practices in several localities.

Daniel Jadue, the popular communist mayor of Santiago’s Recoleta district, is facing an anti-corruption investigation. Jadue, who is also a presidential hopeful, is being scrutinized after the Investigations Police (PDI) intercepted a phone call between one of his advisers and the CEO of Itelecom, discussing a large donation to Recoleta.

Itelecom presumably wanted a contract to upgrade Recoleta’s street lighting with LEDs.

The investigation became public after the PDI raided the Recoleta administration’s offices. Jadue has told CNN Chile, “this looks more like a political intervention than real suspicion.” The Communist Party called the investigation a dirty campaign of the right.

The Investigation

The investigation began when the right-wing mayor of flush Providencia district, Evelyn Matthei, tipped the PDI on possible corruption in Itelecom contracts. Investigators found that local administrations were overpaying and that Itelecom had donated to several mayors’ campaigns.

Overall, at least 22 localities were affected, Recoleta being just the latest. The PDI admitted to intercepting conversations between Itelecom CEO Marcelo Lefort and Jadue’s legal adviser, Ramón Sepúlveda, who talked about a CLP$50 billion (US$69 million) donation to WOMAD, a cultural festival Recoleta hosted in 2019.

On Jan. 7 the PDI raided Recoleta’s administration and seized data from computers. Jadue said we don’t have anything to hide, we have given all the information.”

The Response

An investigation by La Tercera uncovered the Lefort-Sepúlveda connection and the daily released a conversation in which both discussed the payment.

On TwitterSepúlveda said Lefort had represented him in two previous cases. He also claimed to have never presented the money to Jadue.

In a statement, the Communist Party backed Jadue and called the investigation a smear campaign by the right, the government, and the former Concertación, the leftist coalition that governed after the dictatorship but shunned the Communist Party.

Meanwhile, Jadue is campaigning for reelection in Recoleta. He’s also preparing a presidential run and has occupied top spots in the polls. Former national prosecutor Sabas Chahuán will be representing Jadue during the upcoming trial.

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