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Pandora Papers: Piñera family offshore activities come to light

SANTIAGO – The recently-disclosed “Pandora Papers,” a leak of millions of documents related to offshore accounts connected to politicians, celebrities, and others,  implicate Chile’s president. They indicate that he used a British Virgin Islands tax haven to hide the sale of Minera Dominga. The mine was sold to Carlos Délano for US$152 million.

Over the weekend, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) revealed the biggest leak since the 2016 “Panama Papers.” Dubbed the “Pandora Papers,” the ICIJ’s latest batch of 11.9 million documents sheds light on the secret dealings of the rich and famous, including Chile’s President Sebastian Piñera. 

The billionaire businessman is accused of selling an iron and copper mine, Minera Dominga, to childhood-friend Carlos Alberto Délano through a British Virgin Islands (BVI) entity. The Islands are often used as a tax haven for the wealthy. Two-thirds of the Pandora Papers are connected to BVI entities. It is not unusual for the wealthy to use tax havens for tax avoidance and tax evasion, but the investigation of some 600 journalists worldwide shows the vast scope of the secret economy behind the scenes. 

Details from the leak indicate that two contracts were signed, the first in Chile for US$14 million dollars and the second in BVI for US$138 million dollars. The latter called for three installments, with the final installment conditioned on the mine not being environmentally protected.

Dominga Mining Project could spell disaster for vulnerable wildlife 

One of the president’s financial managers has stated that Mr. Piñera was not in fact aware of the process of the sale nor has he been managing his companies for the last 12 years. In addition, Sunday night, Oct 3., the President’s office released a statement which affirmed that the Public Ministry and the Courts of Justice had already investigated the matter in 2017. “The Prosecutor’s Office recommended to terminate the case due to the lack of crime.” 

Presidential candidate Sebastian Sichel has nevertheless come forward asking the president to explain his actions.

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