New convictions in the Penta case have come out and the feeling of impunity and pessimism is installed in most of the citizens. The comments are usually similar: when there are no prison sentences linked to corruption crimes, the perception of injustice is rather homogeneous.
Thanks to the press, we knew how the scenario was shaping up for Pablo Wagner, former Undersecretary of Mining, who was accused and convicted under the crime of unjustified increase of wealth and tax crimes and not under the crime of bribery, as the State Defense Council estimated.
The reproaches went directly to the prosecutor Manuel Guerra, who was in charge of the case after the resignation of the former prosecutors Carlos Gajardo and Pablo Norambuena. However, the problem of the case does not lie in which prosecutor was in charge of the investigation, but in the difficulties of the Public Prosecutor’s Office to prove the bribery that was outlined at some point, a very difficult crime to prove and that in the investigation could not be specifically assured. We cannot think that the Prosecutor’s Office did not do its job -I want to believe that the prosecuting agency did everything within its reach in the investigation- We must believe in the authorities and justice, otherwise, an institutional crisis awaits us, like the one experienced in countries such as Mexico or Peru.
It is true, that the end of the case leaves many dissatisfied and with a different perception. But beyond agreeing or not with the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the call is to think about the future, to do everything possible so that cases of irregular financing of politics do not happen again. For that, we must prevent and we are going in that direction.
Currently, some companies are becoming aware and are protecting themselves, while we hope that the rest of the private sector does the same; the cases of illegal political financing are marked a before and after in the companies, the directors know that if there is a crime in the company they manage, the citizenship is in charge of punishing harshly, so most of them are not willing to pay the reputational cost. It is true, so far there are no prison sentences for those who fell into irregular financing of their campaigns, but the social punishment was much greater.
Now, looking at the glass half full, the lessons to be learned have to do with the fact that we have not yet lost our capacity to be amazed by corruption. Part of the private sector is adopting compliance programs and the unions have set themselves the goal of having good corporate practices. In addition, the government has presented an aggressive probity agenda, taking charge of the social problem.
And now that many have dared to denounce abuses, it is time for the business world to speak out as well. Enough of thinking that we are going to hurt sensitivities. The private sector has a very important role to play in preventing corruption and infecting its peers to leave irregular practices aside. Let’s not wait for the misconduct of some companies to give rise to ideas of expropriating private property.
Published: La Tercera