Chilean Housing Minister Testifies in Democracia Viva Corruption Case

The Chilean Housing Minister testifies in the Caso Democracia Viva corruption investigation, as the government faces scrutiny over its knowledge and involvement in the alleged misuse of public funds.

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Chilean Housing Minister Testifies in Democracia Viva Corruption Case

Chilean Housing Minister Testifies in Democracia Viva Corruption Case

Carlos Montes, the Chilean Minister of Housing, testified for over two hours before the Public Prosecutor's Office on Thursday as a witness in the Caso Democracia Viva corruption investigation. Montes arrived at the prosecutor's office around 7:30 pm and left after 9:30 pm, avoiding giving any statements to the press.

The Prosecutor's Office is trying to determine when Montes and the Executive branch became aware of the agreements between the Regional Housing Office of Antofagasta and the Democracia Viva foundation. Former Undersecretary Tatiana Rojas stated that she informed Montes and Miguel Crispi, the chief of advisors at La Moneda, about the Democracia Viva case before it was published in the media. However, Montes and the government maintain that they only found out about it when the news was published.

Before Montes, Verónica Serrano, the former head of the Precarious Settlements Department at the Ministry of Housing, also testified before the Prosecutor's Office. Serrano was pointed out by Daniel Andrade and Carlos Contreras for pressuring to execute the agreement with Democracia Viva. Serrano spoke to the press, stating that she was only doing her job, as there was a delay in budget execution. She denied having any concerns about the specific agreement with the NGO Democracia Viva, which received $426 million in three contracts from the Housing Ministry.

Serrano clarified that the regional authorities, not her, were responsible for signing the agreements. She also noted that Antofagasta region had the highest delay in budget execution compared to other regions. Additionally, Serrano questioned the offensive against her nephew, Miguel Crispi, stating that the evidence shows there is no reason for the questioning.

Why this matters: The Caso Democracia Viva corruption scandal has implicated high-level officials in the Chilean government, including the Minister of Housing and advisors to the President. The testimony of key figures like Carlos Montes and Verónica Serrano is crucial for determining the extent of knowledge and involvement of government officials in the alleged misuse of public funds.

The president of the Special Investigative Commission (CEI) on the Caso Convenios 2.0, Deputy Rubén Oyarzo, announced a series of summons to the commission, including the Ministers of Social Development and Culture, the Undersecretary of Heritage, and Miguel Crispi. Oyarzo stated that the acting Comptroller revealed many irregularities in the ministries, prompting the summons. The commission will also officially request the Ministry of Housing to provide the document stating when the former Undersecretary Tatiana Rojas informed the ministry and the government about the matter, as there is a discrepancy regarding the timeline.

Key Takeaways

  • Chilean Housing Minister Carlos Montes testified for 2+ hours in Caso Democracia Viva probe.
  • Prosecutors investigating when govt became aware of Democracia Viva agreements with Antofagasta.
  • Former Housing official Verónica Serrano denied concerns about Democracia Viva contract worth $426M.
  • Special Commission to summon ministers, officials over irregularities in ministries revealed by Comptroller.
  • Discrepancy over timeline of when govt was informed about Democracia Viva case by former Undersecretary.