Peru’s Popular Force party, led by Keiko Fujimori, has rejected a bill to strengthen prosecutors investigating money laundering, calling into question the party’s commitment to fighting corruption.
The bill would have empowered the government’s Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) to view money transfers when investigating money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Popular Force, which controls Congress with 73 of 130 total votes, rejected the bill one week after high-profile congresswoman Yeni Vilcatoma resigned from the party.
Popular Force representatives said the bill could lead to government gaining political advantages over opponents. They were also concerned over the potential sharing of information with the attorney general’s office and elections authorities.
“What happened with his anti-corruption commitment, Mrs. Fujimori? Why did Fujimorismo vote against giving the UIF access to banking and tax information?” tweeted Veronika Mendoza, former presidential candidate and leader of left-wing party Broad Front.
“I and Popular Force approve and are in favor of giving [the UIF} access to the bank accounts of anybody under investigation,” Fujimori told reporters in January in the run up to 2016 elections.
Fujimori led President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski by a comfortable margin until just one week before the runoff vote. But reports that Popular Force chairman Joaquin Ramirez was being investigated for money laundering, helped tip the election in favor of Kuczynski.
Peru is Latin America’s only country where the financial investigative unit cannot access bank accounts of the people it investigates.
“[Empowering the UIF this way] is important support in the fight against organized crime, and it works in other countries without any problems,” attorney general Pablo Sanchez told Ideeleradio. “In a global strategy to combat organized crime, prosecutors must have all the necessary and appropriate means to investigate their cases.”
After crime, corruption was voters’ second greatest concern in 2016 elections.
Yeni Vilcatoma renuncia a la bancada de Fuerza Popular (La Republica)