Ecuador: a congressional commission denounced Gullermo Lasso for his ties to tax havens

The Constitutional Guarantees Commission of the National Assembly (AN, Parliament) of Ecuador approved with opposition votes and rejection of the ruling party an extensive report that warns that the president Guillermo Lasso has a “direct link” with tax havens and it denounces that the Head of State failed to comply with the “popular mandate” that prohibits officials from having assets or capital in offshore accounts.

Although the 205-page report does not explicitly recommend the removal of Lasso or the opening of a political trial against him, it does allude to the Article 130 of the Constitution, which establishes that power of the AN, and warns of a “crisis of governance”.

Ethical Pact

In its key paragraph, the text stated that “the non-observance by the president is verified by Ethical Pact (popular consultation on paradises)“, Which, according to the commission,” constitutes the constitutional breach of the provisions of article 130, numeral 2 due to internal commotion and affecting the popular mandate over tax havens. “

The commission’s task was triggered by the dissemination, at the beginning of October, of a work by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) which, based on leaked documents, denounced the existence of offshore accounts of leaders, artists, businessmen and athletes from all over the world.

The Ecuadorian commission also asks to approve a resolution to take Lasso to the plenary session of the AN in no more than eight days and suggests requesting the initiation of impeachment proceedings against the authorities that did not collaborate in the investigation.

The document was approved with the votes of the indigenous force Pachakutik and the correista UNES, and the rejection of the two legislators of the Bank of the National Agreement, which groups together the sectors close to the Government.

The report is now turned to the plenary session of the Assembly, where there is no deadline to be discussed and where it seems difficult for the document to achieve a majority to advance in a possible political trial against the president.

Panamanian companies

The report today concluded that “there is a direct link” between Lasso and the companies Banisi and Banisi Holding, which are based in Panama, and assume that the creation of offshore companies within the Banco de Guayaquil Group – of which Lasso was a shareholder – “must necessarily have the knowledge and approval” of the president.

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He also assured that Lasso’s assertion that he has no relationship with Banisi “does not conform to the truth” and speculated with a possible crime of tax fraud because he detected “disparities” in the payment of taxes in the different companies that are part of the Bank of Guayaquil Group and the president himself, as reported by the Primicias site.

Did not go to Congress

Lasso twice refused to go to the legislative headquarters to answer to the commission and, on the other hand, he invited the members of the body to appear at the Carondelet Palace – seat of the Government – to answer “all the questions that were necessary.”

They didn’t show up either Maria de Lourdes Alcívar and Santiago Lasso, wife and son of the president, respectively, although they were not obliged to do so because they are not public officials.

The text approved today is a little less forceful than the one proposed by Correísmo. It concluded that there is a possibility that Lasso had breached the law that prohibits public officials or candidates for popular elections from having investments in tax havens.

“Collective shame”

“In this context, the President of the Republic I would have no room for maneuver to carry out the National Development Plan and its social credibility would collapse, while generating an environment of frustration, social conflict and collective shame in society ”, the text continued.

For the commission, all this “would generate a scenario of social upheaval because it radically alters the ethical and deontological coordinates of the political system, and makes possible the widening of institutions.”

There was also a minority report from the two legislators closest to the ruling party, who considered that the commission “has not obtained any data” to incriminate Lasso nor did it review the 12 million documents of the Pandora Papers investigation, as explained by the vice-first of the AN, Virgilio Saquicela, daily Trade.

When the investigation began, Lasso sent an official letter to the Assembly in which he claimed to have complied with the law and reported that, in addition, he had asked the Comptroller -as the competent body for this control- to carry out a special examination of their accounts.

The Prosecutor’s Office also initiated an investigation into the matter, based on a presentation by the former presidential candidate Yaku Pérez.

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