Panama Papers pummel Peru politicians

Some 50,000 Peruvians filled Lima’s Plaza San MartĂ­n to recall the April 5, 1992 “autogolpe” (suspension of civil government) by then-president Alberto Fujimori—and to repudiate the presidential ambitions of his daughter Keiko Fujimori, front-runner with the election just five days away. (La RepĂşblica) The mobilization came just as candidate Fujimori (of the right-wing Fuerza Popular party) and three of her rivals have been implicated in the “Panama Papers” revelations. Prime Minister Pedro Cateriano announced via Twitter that the revelations must be investigated promptly. The 11 million documents leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca name political figures from around the world as hiding assets in offshore accounts. Peruvian public-interest media outlet Ojo Publico was a key conduit for the leak. (PeruThisWeek, Andina)

The leaks reveal that a top financier of the Fujimori campaign set up offshore accounts in the British Virgin Islands and Seychelles through Mossack Fonseca. The financier, Jorge Yoshiyama Sasaki is the son of the elder Fujimori’s dictatorship-era cabinet minister Jaime Yoshiyama Tanaka. The younger Yoshiyama Sasaki and his wife Joon Lim Lee Park funneled over $113,000 into Fujimori’s 2011 and 2016 presidential campaigns. The elder Yoshiyama Tanaka has also been implicated in offshore money laundering, and is also one of Keiko Fujimori’s key financial supporters.

Another candidate, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (Peruanos Por el Kambio), apparently signed off on a recommendation for an associate to set up a Panamanian shell company. Kuczynski, a former minister in the presidency of Alejandro Toledo, is tied for second place with leftist candidate Veronika Mendoza (Frente Amplio). Ex-president  Toledo himself is also running (with PerĂş Posible), although trailing badly—and is likewise implicated in the Panama revelations. His former advisor Cesar Almeyda—who briefly served as President Toledo’s intelligence chief in 2003—apparently set up an offshore account through Mossack Fonseca as director of the company Trei Investments Corp.

Finally, candidate and former president Alan García (APRA)—also trailing badly—is linked to the offshore scandal through two confidants, his business partner Jaime Carbajal Pérez and his former cabinet minister Hernan Garrido Lecca. (TeleSur, RPP)

Keiko Fujimori was already facing charges of fraud before the Panama revelations. On March 24, the Special Electoral Jury (JEE) rejected a petition to have her candidacy annulled for attempted vote-buying through monies distributed at her campaign rallies.  (La Mula)

In the last debate before the election, Fujimori faced off April 3 with the above candidates, as well as two more from the left: Miguel Hilario (Progresando PerĂş), an Oxford-trained Shipibo-Conibo indigenous leader; and Gregorio Santos (Democracia Directa), president of Cajamarca region. Santos, imprisoned while corruption charges are pending against him, was given a special furlough to attend the debate. (RPP, El Comercio, LivingInPeru)

  1. Panama court acquits ‘Panama Papers’ defendants

    The Second Liquidator Court for Criminal Cases of Panama’s First Judicial Circuit acquitted Friday all defendants in the “Panama Papers” and “Operation Car Wash” cases. This landmark legal process involved 28 individuals in the Panama Papers case, stemming from the leaked documents of the now-defunct Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca & Co., and 31 people in the Car Wash case, which implicated various global figures in money laundering schemes. Due to similarities in the accused parties and the facts under investigation, the Car Wash case was consolidated with the “Panama Papers” case in a single file by the Prosecutor’s Office. (Jurist)