The Panama Papers have deepened the corruption already swirling around Peru’s presidential race, implicating in particular front-runner Keiko Fujimori, daughter of former dictator Alberto Fujimori, through key financial backers who hid and laundered funds with the help of Mossack Fonseca in offshore tax havens and shell companies. Three other presidential candidates are also implicated.
According to Peru’s Ojo Publico, one of the media organizations involved in the leak, Jorge Yoshiyama Sasaki, a major Fujimori financier and son of her father’s dictatorship-era Minister Jaime Yoshiyama Tanaka, set up various offshore accounts in the British Virgin Islands and Seychelles through the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca.
Yoshiyama Sasaki and his wife Joon Lim Lee Park funneled over US$113,000 into Fujimori’s 2011 and 2016 presidential campaigns. Yoshiyama Sasaki has refused to comment on the allegations, Ojo Publico reported. His father Yoshiyama Tanaka has also been implicated in offshore money laundering schemes as another of Fujimori’s key financial supporters.
Other important Fujimori backers also have offshore companies registered in their names. Her father, whose presidency morphed into a dictatorship in the early 1990’s and oversaw serious human rights abuses until the dictatorship fell in 2000, is now behind bars on charges of embezzlement and fraud.
But while Fujimori is the most significantly implicated, at least three other presidential candidates are tied to the offshore tax haven leak, confirming suspicious of widespread involvement of dirty money in the country’s political landscape.
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, presidential candidate tied for second place with leftist Veronika Mendoza and former minister under former President Alejandro Toledo, another presidential candidate, is implicated for signing off to recommend a friend and banker set up a Panamanian shell company, Ojo Publico reported.
Toledo, trailing in the election polls with less than 2 percent, is also implicated in offshore schemes through his former advisor Cesar Almeyda, a lawyer who briefly served a Peru’s head of intelligence in 2003. Almeyda set up an offshore account through Mossack Fonseca as the secretary and director of the company Trei Investments Corp., which was still active in the Public Registry of Panama in December 2015.
Finally, another presidential candidate and former President Alan Garcia, currently in fifth place in the polls with single digit support, is also linked to the offshore scandal through two confidants, his business partner Jaime Carbajal Perez and his former housing and health minister Hernan Garrido Lecca, Ojo Publico reported.
Other Peruvians clients of Mossack Fonseca outed in the Panama Papers include names linked to organized crime, drug trafficking, and illegal mining operations.
The leak casts a further shadow of corruption over Peru’s election campaign, in which Fujimori and Kuczynski, as well dozens of candidates for corruption, have faced the possibility of being kicked out of the campaign over accusations of corruption just weeks before the elections. Two candidates were axed from the ballot in March, including Cesar Acu ña for allegations of vote buying. Acuña is also implicated in the Panama Papers through his brother.
Drug money has also corrupted Peruvian politics, with dozens of politicians, including five presidential candidates, linked to cocaine money as so-called narco-candidates.
In what is being described as the largest leak in journalistic history, the Panama Papers are a set of over 11.5 million documents dated beginning in the late 1970s that reveal how the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca helped world leaders, wealthy elites, and celebrities hide assets in shell companies and offshore tax havens.