This article first appeared in France 24 on August 10, 2021.
The Peruvian Public Prosecutor’s Office included Prime Minister Guido Bellido and Vladimir Cerrón, founder of the political party Perú Libre, with which Pedro Castillo became President, in an investigation for alleged money laundering. The accusations come at a time when the Council of Ministers is waiting for his investiture to be approved in Congress. There are more and more voices asking the President to change his recently appointed cabinet.
A political and judicial whirlwind is shaking the recently inaugurated Peruvian Government. Less than two weeks ago President Pedro Castillo completed the appointments of his team of ministers and the authorities have already opened an investigation for money laundering against some members of his political circle.
The Peruvian Prosecutor’s Office included in an investigation linked to the case known as ‘Los Dinámicos del Centro’ the Prime Minister, Guido Bellido, the founder of the ruling Peru Libre party, Vladimir Cerrón, and the brother of the latter and spokesman of the political movement, Waldemar Cerrón; as well as the party itself as a legal entity.
The investigation against the officials is focused on the alleged irregular financing of Perú Libre through irregular charges made by officials of the regional government of the central department of Junín, where the now ruling party movement was born. Another 14 people were linked to this case.
According to a 50-page resolution issued by the prosecutor in the case, Richard Rojas, a criminal network was allegedly formed within the political party dedicated to two main objectives.The first one, to invest money “unduly” to the different political campaigns of the left-wing party, and the second one, to finance the payments and judicial services related to the procedures in which Vladimir Cerrón would be involved. Among them was the indemnification of a conviction for corruption that he has in force prevented him from being his party’s presidential candidate.
According to the prosecutor’s hypothesis, the money injected into the movement would have come from “illicit gains” related to corruption cases. The funds would have entered the economic market with an “appearance of legality” through the party.
Everything emerges from the case ‘Los Dinámicos del Centro’, whose investigation began in 2019. The organization would have operated inside the Regional Directorate of Transport and Communications of Junín, dedicated to obtaining irregular funds through the trafficking of driver’s licenses, even when the applicants did not meet the requirements.
The group was also allegedly integrated by members of Perú Libre who would have decided on the hiring of regional government personnel to charge them quotas and thus finance their proselytizing activities.
Although initially, the case had been limited to officials and people related to the Junin Administration, the alleged injection of this money to the electoral campaign of Peru Libre extended the investigations.
Rojas decided to extend the investigations for 16 months. In addition, the national superior prosecutor of the anti-corruption system, Omar Tello, ordered that the investigation be transferred to Lima, in charge of prosecutor Vanessa Diaz.
Last June, when Castillo was about to take office, he denied receiving financing from third parties for his political campaign and said he was willing to investigate.
Cabinet confirmation in Congress gets complicated
This judicial news for Peru Libre, the first party of regional origin to reach the Presidency, comes just when the Council of Ministers appointed by Castillo is pending approval by the Legislative.
The investigations against some of its main figures increase the calls from the opposition and from within its own political party to change the selected cabinet.
On Monday, the opposition and president of Congress, Maria del Carmen Alva, called for the president to change several of his ministers before going to Parliament to ask for the vote of investiture for his government.
“We have gathered the concern of the different benches in Congress. It is a generalized position that we are transferring to the Government so that it can evaluate the changes publicly suggested by several congressmen and we can ‘make viable’ the confidence to the cabinet for the good of our country”, assured Alva.
Castillo had already aroused the rejection of some sectors for the designation of Guido Bellido as chief of ministers due to his closeness to Vladimir Cerron, whose investigations for corruption and his declared admiration for the governments of Cuba and Venezuela are viewed with distrust.
Bellido faces another investigation by the Attorney General’s Office for allegedly apologizing for terrorism after paying homage to Edith Lagos, one of the best-known faces of the Shining Path group.
Bellido’s appointment even raised investors’ fears and the sol, the local currency, fell to a historic daily plunge in more than seven years. Right after his appointment, the local stock index fell almost 6% to its session low and recorded its lowest close since November.
Castillo begins his term in office amidst disagreements and a deeply fragmented Congress dominated by the opposition.