Last week brought the news that two more major Peruvian businesses, Credicorp and Gloria made undisclosed, and therefore illegal, campaign contributions to Keiko Fujimori’s unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 2011. Credicorp, the entity that includes Peru’s largest commercial bank (Banco de Crédito) and forms a key part of the Romero group, paid Keiko US$3.56 million in cash.
Dionisio Romero Paoletti, the head of the Romero group, admitted the payment in testimony offered to the Lava Jato investigation being carried out by the public prosecution service. He claimed to have handed the money personally to Keiko to help her campaign. Defensively, he argued he did this to stop Peru falling into the hands of ‘Chavismo’, as personified by Ollanta Humala. Humala went on narrowly to win the election on the second round against Keiko.
Romero also admitted paying a further US$450,000 to Keiko in the 2016 elections.
In a similar hearing, Vito Rodriguez, head of the Gloria group, admitted to paying US$200,000 to Keiko’s campaign in 2011 and a further US$200,000 to Kuczynski’s in 2016.
As Francisco Durand, specialist in private sector politics, makes clear in an interview with Otra Mirada, what is surprising about Romero’s confession is the size of the 2011 donation and the fact that it was handed over in cash. Owning only around 15% of the shares in Credicorp, it would have been difficult to take out so much money without the consent of other shareholders.
For her part, Keiko is currently in prison on remand for having received large amounts from Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction firm and for allegedly having disguised these payments through an elaborate scheme of fake local campaign contributions. Jorge Barata, Odebrecht’s representative in Peru at the rime, states that he ordered US$1.2 million to be paid to help Keiko’s 2011 campaign.
She is appealing her detention to the Constitutional Tribunal. The latest revelations are unlikely to improve her case for immediate release.
According to La República, the quid pro quo for these payments included favours for the two companies concerned. In 2017 and 2018, the fujimorista majority in Congress agreed to tone down regulation of food labelling designed to indicate more clearly the salt, sugar and fat content of food products. Alicorp, one of Peru’s largest food producers, forms part of the Romero empire. The Vizcarra administration ended by vetoing the law approved by Congress and subsequently introducing the original, tougher rules by decree.
In a similar session of the Lava Jato enquiry, José Graña Miro Quesada confirmed that Capeco, the association of construction companies, paid US$240,000 to Confiep, the private sector lobby group, to help fund Keiko’s election in 2011. Confiep appears to have acted as the conduit for private sector contributions. Graña’s company, Graña y Montero, chipped in US$25,000 to Capeco’s contribution. He denied funding Keiko directly, either in 2011 or 2016.
The team of legal investigators, headed by José Domingo Pérez, has received constant harassment both from within the judicial establishment and without. The complaints office of the public prosecution service (Ministerio Público) has opened a case against him by Fujimori’s lawyers for allegedly passing documentation regarding the Fujimori case to the media.
Ojo Público has undertaken interesting work on party funding in electoral contests between 2006 and 2016, drawing attention to the inability of the ONPE (the entity which administers elections) to exercise proper oversight over campaign finance.