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Military-Spending Scam May Have Cost Chilean State Millions

LADB Article ID: 79776
Category/Department: Chile
Date: 2015-09-25
By: Benjamin Witte-Lebhar

A major fraud case involving Chilean Army officials is adding new fuel to the country’s already raging confidence-in-leadership crisis, which has pummeled President Michelle Bachelet and her conservative opponents alike and deepened the public’s distrust of state institutions. Military investigators have been looking into the affair since early 2014. But it was not until last month, with the publication of a scathing exposé by The Clinic, a Santiago-based satirical/investigative weekly, that the milicogate case started gaining widespread attention. The focus of the inquiry is a series of fraudulent transactions that Army personnel and outside contractors made between 2010 and 2014. Investigators believe the parties involved used false invoices—for services never rendered—to embezzle large sums of money from the Fondos Reservados del Cobre, special military funds drawn every year from the Corporación Nacional del Cobre (CODELCO), Chile’s state-owned copper company. The money is supposed to cover new equipment and maintenance costs.

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