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  HOME | Chile

Chilean Investment Bank Probed for Campaign-Finance Violations

SANTIAGO – Chile’s SII tax agency said on Wednesday that it presented a legal request to investigate alleged illegal political contributions by investment bank Penta.

The complaint is directed against the legal representatives of Penta and associated corporations, who are suspected of committing tax violations connected with the unauthorized use of 258 fake invoices for professional fees and other services to reduce taxable income by some 2 billion pesos ($3.38 million).

The controversy over the financing of political campaigns arose as a result of an investigation of the Penta Group – which manages some $20 billion in securities – by the Attorney General’s Office.

Former Penta executive Hugo Bravo was the one who opened the case by revealing that the group financed the campaigns of the rightist UDI party with money coming from fictitious business transactions that they “verified” with fake invoices.

Bravo also filed a $3.89 million lawsuit against the owners of Penta for “unjustified termination, moral damage, labor ... threats and harassment.”

The case has reopened the debate on whether the state should finance campaigns, while Congress is processing a bill that reforms the electoral system.

The lower house agreed to form one investigative committee for the Penta case and another to study the entire system of political campaign financing.

In August, the SII had presented a complaint for tax fraud against Penta partners Carlos Eugenio Lavin and Carlos Alberto Delano, accusing them of using the fake invoices for professional fees submitted by their spouses to reduce the tax basis of one of their corporations.

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