Corruption gone wild? Peru's political indictments reach from top office down

From three former presidents under investigation for charges for money laundering to selling pardons, and over 90 percent of Peru's mayors accused of corruption, Peru is facing systemic corruption.

• InSight Crime researches, analyzes, and investigates organized crime in the Americas. The views expressed are the author's own.

One former Peruvian president is now facing charges of money laundering, another of selling pardons to drug traffickers, and a third is in prison, while a serving congressman has been linked to a Mexican drug smuggler, suggesting endemic corruption in Peru's political class. 

In an unanimous vote, Congress approved a report by a congressional audit commission that proposes charging former President Alejandro Toledo (who was in office from 2001 to 2006) with money laundering and criminal conspiracy. Mr. Toledo is accused of using funds from a Costa Rican shell company in order to finance his mother-in-law's $5 million purchase of a home and office. Toledo, who has been under investigation since last year, has criticized the accusations, calling them a "political attack" as he plans to run for the presidency again in 2016.

Former president Alan Garcia (1985-90 and 2006-11) is facing possible indictment in the "narco-pardons" scandal, where he is accused of having been involved in selling pardons to convicts, including drug traffickers.

Former President Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) is in prison, serving sentences for human rights abuses and embezzlement.

Alongside these scandals involving former presidents, a sitting congressman has found himself mired in controversy. Investigative news magazine Caretas recently revealed that a spokesperson for Toledo's political party, Jose Leon Rivera, rented a beach house to a man police say is a Mexican drug trafficker responsible for the largest seizure of cocaine ever confiscated in Peru

While the congressman initially denied knowing the alleged trafficker, Rodrigo Torres, a police surveillance video released by Caretas purportedly shows the two meeting outside the house. After the video's release, Mr. Leon admitted that he did meet with his tenant on several occasions, but did not know of his involvement in drug trafficking.

InSight Crime Analysis

The ongoing probe into Toledo's financial affairs may soon accompany a deeper investigation into Leon's dealings with the Mexicans. Added to this is the fact that over 90 percent of the country's mayors are under investigation for corruption and you have what appears to be systematic corruption in Peru's political world, reaching the highest levels.

Another current challenge for this Andean nation is cleaning up the pool of candidates who plan to run during the upcoming gubernatorial and mayoral elections scheduled for Oct. 5. The Interior Minister has previously said they've identified 115 candidates who are linked to drug trafficking cases, as well as 345 candidates who've already been convicted of a crime.

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