Expensive watchdogs: Peru’s Public Ministry investigates President Dina Boluarte’s Rolex

By March 20, 2024

Lima, Peru — Peru’s Public Ministry on Monday opened an investigation into President Dina Boluarte for alleged illicit enrichment, following a local news outlet’s investigation into her alleged collection of expensive watches. 

A March 18 statement from the Public Ministry read: “Preliminary proceedings have been ordered against Dina Boluarte for the alleged commission of the crime of illicit enrichment and omission of declaration in documents, due to the use of Rolex watches.”

According to news outlet La Encerrona, President Boluarte has worn 14 different watches, including a Rolex, since she became Vice President during the administration of jailed former President Pedro Castillo. Boluarte took over the presidency on December 7, 2022 following Castillo’s ouster after his attempt to dissolve Congress. 

The team from La Encerrona reportedly analyzed a number of photos with Boluarte wearing the jewelry. 

The investigation also revealed that during that period, while her monthly salary ranged from 30,000 to 16,000 soles (USD $8,000 – $4,300), she wore watches like the Rolex, which is valued at USD $14,000 in Peru.

Last Friday, President Boluarte told journalists the report about her Rolex watch was “biased” and said that she bought it with her “own hard work.” She called it a “vintage item.”

“I wear it very occasionally, and what I mean to say is: I entered the Government Palace with clean hands and I will leave with clean hands,” she said.

Dina Boluarte during a public audience. Image courtesy of Andina.

On Monday afternoon, Prime Minister Gustavo Adrianzén declined to respond to questions from the press regarding the case.

Criminal lawyer Carlos Caro told the local news outlet RPP that Boluarte could face an investigation even with just a small sign of wrongdoing, because she is a public official.

“Jurisprudence has already determined that, for the initiation of an investigation, a simple initial suspicion is sufficient,” the lawyer said. “Nowadays, practically anything, with minimal information, can trigger an investigation. Every official who has held a position and is required to declare assets and income could be investigated.” 

Caro said that because the watches are quite valuable, if Boluarte bought them from a jewelry store or an authorized Rolex seller, those sellers are required to maintain sales records for 10 years according to anti-money laundering rules.

So far, the Public Ministry has requested copies of photographs and video records of the watches. They have also asked for information on travel expenses, salaries, among other things, and receipts from the president.