Chile Chile Politics — 15 September 2015

15 September 2015.  Santiago, CHILE.

Giorgio Martelli, campaign fundraiser for the pre-campaign of now-president Michelle Bachlet, and 5 others were charged yesterday with falsifying invoices and redirecting those funds to the political campaigns of candidate Michelle Bachelet and Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, former president of Chile. Frei was president of the Senate at the time of these alleged crimes, so this fundraising was not associated with his presidential campaign.

Mr Martelli is charged with four crimes including presenting $338 million CLP ($493,000) in fake invoices to the mining and chemical company SQM. Those charges include the charge of tax crimes.  Martelli is under house arrest pending trial. The invoices were paid by SQM for work that was never done.

No politician has been charged in this case or the related case against the Penta group because there is no campaign finance rules in Chile that would make any of this a crime.  The congress is currently trying to write such rules in light of these scandals that have tarnished the image of the country.

Also charged were:

  • Alejandro Sule–ex deputy (congressman) Radical Party.  Former adviser to Carolina Tohá, mayor of Santiago.
  • David Flores–ex leader PPD political party.
  • Clara Bensan–accountant.
  • Claudio Equiluz–former Vice President of the RN political party. The RN is one of two major opposition (conservative) political parties in Chile.
  • Patricio Contesse–former General Manager SQM.
  • Robert Guzman–attorney to Julio Ponce, son-in-law of former dictator Pinochet.   Ponce resigned as chairman of SQM last month.  He has not been charged with any crime.

Also under investigation is Senator Fulvio Rossi (Socialist).  Emails show he asked SQM for funds for 32 politicians running in local and regional elections.  The irony of this is that the senator, a member of the Socialist Party, asked SQM, run by Pinochet’s son-in-law, the billionaire Julio Ponce, for campaign contributions.  Isabel Allende, president of the Senate and member of the Socialist party, insisted that for this behavior Rossi be kicked out of the Socialist party. Allende is daughter of the late Salvador Allende, the Socialist president ousted by Pinochet.

Politicians on the left were measured in their comments while Hernán Larraín (UDI) told El Mercurio that it was necessary that those who were associated with the pre-campaign of President Bachelet give an explanation.

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