SANTIAGO – President Michelle Bachelet said on Monday that her government is committed to transparency in the corruption cases that have shaken Chile over the past few months, and asserted that all citizens are equal before the law.
“There are no first- or second-class citizens here – before the law we are all equal,” Bachelet said during a ceremony at which new fire engines were delivered to firefighters.
“I want to be very clear in telling you that my government has a deep commitment to transparency with regard to the incidents recently detected,” the president said.
Bachelet was referring to the so-called Penta case, a trial for tax evasion and bribery involving business owners and politicians, and the controversial real-estate deal in which her son Sebastian Davalos and his wife took part.
This recent case of corruption hit the president’s popularity hard and sent her approval rating plummeting by 30 percent, according to a survey released Monday by the Plaza Publica Cadem consultancy.
Bachelet said Monday that her administration will collaborate “in all that needs to be investigated, judged and penalized by the appropriate authorities.”
The Penta case began with a charge of tax fraud against the Penta group, an investment bank that manages assets of more than $20 billion, and currently 10 alleged participants have been formally indicted, of whom four are behind bars pending trial.
Those remanded in custody are Carlos Alberto Delano and Carlos Eugenio Lavin, the owners of Penta; Pablo Wagner, former undersecretary of mining in the 2010-2014 Sebastian Piñera government; and Ivan Alvarez, an ex-inspector of the SII tax agency.
Also discovered during the investigation were several cases of illicit financing, mostly involving right-wing politicians.