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Piñera is definitively dismissed for the Dominga case

“It does not constitute a crime.” With this exhaustive phrase, the 7th Guarantee Court of Santiago decreed the definitive dismissal of the case opened for the sale of the participation that the family of former president Sebastián Piñera had in the Minera Dominga project to his friend Carlos Alberto Délano and his children, an event that occurred at the end of 2010 and whose details were known in 2021 as a result of the global journalistic investigation called “Panama Papers”.

Délano, founder of the Penta group, bought in December 2010 in US$152 million the participation that it did not own in the Dominga project. Dominga was controlled through a cascade of companies, starting with Andes Iron, the direct owner of the project. Andes Iron, in turn, was controlled by Minería Activa Uno Spa, a firm created by the brokerage LarrainVial to invest in mining. The company Mediterráneo Fondo de Inversión -managed by Administratora Bancorp, the parent company of the Piñera family’s businesses- owned 33.33% of Minería Activa and Délano, through its company Inmobiliaria Duero Ltda., had 22.73%, for What between them they owned 56% of it, which gave them control of Dominga downwards.

The acquisition by Délano of the Piñeras’ share was carried out in two deals, one in Chile, where US$14 million was paid, and another in the British Virgin Islands, for US$138 million. It was this last contract that generated political controversy, when its structure was disclosed in detail, during the second presidential term of the late president. The Public Ministry began an ex officio investigation against Piñera to determine if a crime of bribery could be constituted. This, to clarify whether Piñera took or omitted steps, in his capacity as a public official, that affected the purchase and sale contract signed in the Caribbean tax haven, since there was a clause that defined that the third payment of the transaction was subject to not being The site where the project would be built was declared an ecological reserve zone, which actually did not happen.

But after four years of investigations, Judge Freddy Cubillos accepted the request of the Public Ministry itself and decreed the definitive dismissal of the casewhich was never formalized, against Piñera and Délano – who was convicted in 2018 for tax crimes linked to the case of illegal financing of politics -, and rejected the reopening requested by the complainant, represented by lawyer Luis Mariano Rendón.

The court, in any case, had already dismissed the case on February 9, three days after the tragic death of the former president by declaring “the extinction of the criminal case.” “The reopening requested by one of the complainants was rejected and in these circumstances, it should be understood as exhausted,” said the ruling known this Thursday.

And among the arguments for closing the case, the court stated: “that “The accused Sebastián Piñera did not participate in the execution of the questioned contract,” “that it is not true that it was done directly by the family of the aforementioned, it was carried out by LarrainVial, with the defendant’s children having a small shareholding”, “that there was international banking advice (two banks) from which the guidelines regarding the modality emanated” and “that the negotiations were carried out by an investment fund, in which there were only interventions by individuals.”

Regarding the questioned clause, the judge held that “It is not an unusual occurrence in this type of business, and its inclusion is sufficiently explained in order to not hinder the execution of the company and defer the payment period of the balance,” and “that the mere fact of approving a ‘Protected Area’ project does not prevent the execution of mining activity; the environmental project in the area subject to litigation took more than 13 years and went through different governments.”

And regarding the fact that the contract was carried out in the tax haven, he stated that “the execution of the contract in the Virgin Islands was justified by the nature of the business, (…) the sole circumstance of being executed outside the national territory, It does not make it irregular.”

The judge, who highlighted the fact that neither the prosecution formalized the accused nor the Internal Revenue Service filed a complaint for tax crimes nor did the State Defense Council become a party, also ruled out an alleged “lack of objectivity” of the Public Ministry to carry out the case.

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