(CNN Spanish) — The former Secretary General of the Presidential Office of Peru, Arnulfo Bruno Pacheco, declared before the Justice that he gave President Pedro Castillo 30,000 soles (US$ 8,000) from a businessman in exchange for including a person in the board of directors of the state-owned company Petroperú, according to two sources from the Prosecutor’s Office of that country.
This statement had already been revealed on Sunday in the Panorama program of local television station Panamericana TV, without attributing sources.
Pacheco added in his statement, according to those same sources, that those US$8,000 and another US$4,000 that he would have received came from a Peruvian businessman who supposedly asked Castillo to include Hugo Chávez Arévalo in the state company Petroperú.
Benji Espinoza, President Castillo’s lawyer, told CNN that what Pacheco declared constitutes “the version of a person who seeks the benefit and interest of exchanging his freedom and security in exchange for information that he says is the truth. It has not yet been determined if it is, that information has to be corroborated.”
President Castillo had already denied these accusations on Sunday on his Twitter account. “I emphatically reject the false accusations broadcast by the Panorama program, pointing out that he would have received a ‘reward’ of 30,000 soles. In honor of the journalistic truth, he demanded a serious investigation to clarify this falsehood”.
Castillo added that he would denounce the “journalistic production” (referring to the Panorama program) “that spreads false news and whose sole purpose is to deceive the public.”
Consulted by CNN, Rosana Cueva, journalistic director of Panorama, said that the news given in the program “is not false and is adjusted to all the protocols of responsible journalism.” “This is a faithful report and a faithful report is to point out what Bruno Pacheco has said in the Prosecutor’s Office at this stage of denunciations.” And she added: “You don’t have to pay attention to the messenger, but to the message, which is what the president is doing right now to distract.”
CNN contacted Hugo Chávez Arévalo, who also denied Pacheco’s claims.
Chávez accepted that he knew the businessman who would have given Pacheco the US$4,000, as he told the prosecution, and that, with that businessman, he met President Castillo at the Government Palace.
However, he denied that Pacheco had any interference in his appointment as general manager of Petroperú because he was appointed by the board of that state company.
On September 15, 2021, the Ministry of Economy and Finance appointed two of the directors of Petroperú. One of them was Chavez, who was named general manager three weeks later, on October 7. Barely 24 hours had passed since the departure of the then minister, Iván Merino.
Months later, Merino denounced in the newspaper El Comercio that he had withdrawn from his position because he had not accepted Pacheco’s pressure for Chávez to be the general manager of Petroperú.
Pacheco turned himself in to the Peruvian justice days before Castillo completed a year in power and since then he has been giving statements to the Special Team against Corruption of Power of the Public Ministry, about the allegations of corruption during the current government.
Pacheco has been investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office since November 2021 in several cases that include the alleged commission of crimes such as influence peddling, illegal sponsorship and abuse of authority.
César Nakazaki, Pacheco’s lawyer, has said that his client acknowledges having participated in a criminal organization, and that he has accepted the condition of effective collaborator.
According to Peruvian law, an effective collaborator is one who, whether or not subjected to an investigation or criminal proceeding, provides the Public Ministry with information in exchange for benefits.
President Pedro Castillo has five investigations opened by the National Prosecutor’s Office, four of them for alleged crimes committed during his government.
One of them corresponds to a tender granted by Petroperú, a case in which Hugo Chávez Arévalo is also being investigated.
Both reject the accusations against them.
Although the president can be investigated for alleged crimes, Peru’s constitution restricts the possibility of his being accused. While he is in office, Castillo could only be charged with four crimes, including treason.