LIMA – Several officials are under investigation for diverting more than 1 million soles ($300,000) from anti-poverty programs in the northern region of Cajamarca, Peruvian media reported.
Prosecutors in Cajamarca suspect program administrators and officials of state-owned Banco de la Nacion began diverting money in 2011, according to the report by the “Cuarto Poder” (Fourth Estate) television newscast, amplified on Monday by La Republica newspaper.
Juntos (Together) and Pension 65, two flagship social programs of President Ollanta Humala’s government, are focused mainly on elderly people living in extreme poverty.
The administrators implicated in the scheme, whose whereabouts are unknown, were diverting payments that were supposed to be deposited in beneficiaries’ accounts at Banco de la Nacion.
Recipients receive 300 soles ($100) every two months.
Reports mentioned the case of an elderly woman who missed collecting several payments due to illness and discovered after her recovery that the stipends had been withdrawn from her account.
One of the administrators under investigation was found to have made several trips abroad, notably to Argentina, Cuba and Panama, despite having a monthly salary of only 2,000 soles ($666).
The embezzlement came to light after one of the conspirators decided to cooperate with authorities.
The deputy minister for Social Inclusion, Norma Vidal, said the senior officials in charge of the aid programs feel “betrayed.”