ColombiaOne.comWorldPeruvian President Accused of Illicit Enrichment in Rolexgate Case

Peruvian President Accused of Illicit Enrichment in Rolexgate Case


President Peru Rolexgate
The origin of Peruvian President Boluarte’s rolex watches opens a political crisis with accusations of illicit enrichment – Credit: Peruvian Presidency

Peru is in a political crisis due to accusations of alleged illicit enrichment of its president, Dina Boluarte. The case known as “Rolexgate” opens questions about the origin of several high-end watches, up to a dozen, that the president had not declared. The case threatens the position of the Peruvian head of state, who will have to explain this week to the Public Prosecutor’s Office the origin of the expensive watches.

At the political level, her survival depends on Congress, where the left-wing opposition is promoting her impeachment. Boluarte became head of state in December 2022, after the forced departure of the previous president, Pedro Castillo, accused of promoting a coup d’état to avoid his dismissal.

Peru is a country mired in political corruption. It has had six presidents in the last eight years, almost all of them under suspicion for corruption cases. In this context, Boluarte, the first woman to become head of state, managed to be appointed president by constitutional mandate, after occupying the vice presidency with Castillo, when he was removed from office a little more than fifteen months ago.

Massive resignations of ministers

Following the scandal, a massive resignation of up to six Peruvian cabinet ministers followed, although none of them made any public reference to the case of the controversial watches. The Minister of the Interior, Victor Torres, was the first to resign. He was followed by the heads of the Ministries of Women, Education, Agrarian Development, Production and Foreign Trade.

Among the most resounding resignations is that of Torres, who was in charge of the police that last weekend searched the private home and presidential office of Dina Boluarte. The operation was broadcast live by a television network, and the police can be seen using force to break into the head of state’s house.

This violent way of proceeding was justified by the police on the grounds that “there was no one in the house” who could facilitate their entry. For some analysts, the manner was “unusual,” despite the usual cases of investigations against politicians in the country.

The new ministers were sworn in yesterday evening, forming a government of 18 portfolios, with Gustavo Adrianzen as Prime Minister, a position he has held for less than a month.

Newspaper report starts the case

The case broke out two weeks ago when the media outlet La Encerrona explained in a report that in recent years the current president had been seen wearing several Rolex watches, without her having declared them as possessions. The media highlighted that Boluarte’s watches have been increasing in value since her time as Minister of Development, between 2021 and 2022.

According to the legislation, in a South American country, an elected official must present a sworn statement on assets that exceed the value of 10,300 soles (about US$2,774), something that Boluarte did not do with the watches, according to La Encerrona.

The newspaper report notes that it would be difficult to explain the acquisition of these high-end watches with the salary that, as a public official, Boluarte has had in the last three years. Other Peruvian media also reported that authorities detected some US$300,000 in deposits of unknown origin made to the Peruvian president’s accounts before she took office.

After the search by the police and the Prosecutor’s Office, none of the watches were found in Boluarte’s home or her presidential office, so the justice system has asked the head of state to exhibit these goods and explain their origin in an act for which she has been summoned to appear in court this Friday.

“The President of the Republic has been formally summoned to exhibit the Rolex watches and to testify on Friday, April 5,” says a statement released by the Prosecutor’s Office.

Opposition seeks impeachment

For Boluarte, the judicial action in her house was “arbitrary, disproportionate and abusive”, facts that she described as an “attack on democracy and the state of government, generating political, social and economic instability”.

The president went so far as to question the event as a sexist demonstration against her. “Since when does a sector of the press worry about what a president….wears or does not wear? I hope, and I want to believe, that it is not a sexist or discriminatory issue,” she said.

If, finally, the Public Prosecutor’s Office determines criminal actions against the president, these would only take place after July 26, the date on which Boluarte will legally leave the presidency. If the legislative branch so determines, the president could be forced to leave office earlier, if Congress establishes “moral incapacity”.

For this to happen, the right-wing deputies, with the political support of the president, would have to support the initiatives promoted by the left to remove Boluarte from office, something that is not at all clear as of today.

So far, a portion of these left-wing deputies have filed the motion to initiate the impeachment process, something that must first be approved by a qualified majority of the chamber.

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