SANTIAGO – Chilean courts have charged politicians of the right-wing opposition for tax fraud, linked to irregularities in election funding.
Sen. Ivan Moreira, Congressman Felipe de Mussy and former mayor of Santiago, Pablo Zalaquett, were charged Monday by the prosecution who is conducting an investigation into corruption cases involving the politicians and two business conglomerates, the Penta Group and SQM, the country’s largest non-metals mining company.
Meanwhile, two other former parliamentarians, Jovino Novoa and Alberto Cardemil, accused of the same charges, requested a postponement of their hearing, which is now scheduled for July 6.
Moreira and De Mussy, who enjoy parliamentary immunity, were not subjected to precautionary measures, while Zalaquett was placed under house arrest at night by Judge Juan Carlos Valdes.
Novoa was granted a postponement after he suffered from a sudden drop in blood pressure and stomach cramps during the hearing.
Meanwhile, Cardemil’s defense lawyers alleged the prosecution had presented charges for new crimes against the politician on Friday, not giving them enough time for preparing their defense.
These are the first charges to be presented against the politicians, in the backdrop of an investigation by the prosecution that accuse them of issuing false invoices to obtain money from Penta or SQM to fund election campaigns.
The most serious charges are those facing Jovino Novoa, founder and leader of the conservative Independent Democratic Union party.
He has repeatedly denied the charges, saying he is a victim of political persecution.