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Chilean Police Force Mired in Major Embezzlement Scandal

LADB Article ID: 80292
Category/Department: Chile
Date: 2017-05-12
By: Benjamin Witte-Lebhar

An unfolding corruption scandal involving the Carabineros, Chile’s uniformed police force, threatens to exacerbate what pundits say is a confidence-in-leadership crisis in the South American country, which will hold presidential and parliamentary elections later this year.The “Pacogate” story, as some media outlets call it (paco is a slang term for police in Chile), broke in early March but continues to make waves as prosecutors push forward with their investigation. Congress has also launched an inquiry into the affair. To date, more than 40 people––mostly police but also a few civilians––have been indicted. And the list keeps growing, as does the amount of money thought to be involved. This is hardly the first corruption scandal to make headlines in Chile. In recent years, the public has been bombarded with reports about convoluted campaign financing schemes, conflicts of interest, tax evasion, and corporate collusion. And yet, even in that context Pacogate stands out, in part because of just how brazen the crimes appear to be. This is a case of embezzlement in its most cut-and-dry sense: The police officers and civilians implicated in the affair are accused of lifting funds from the Carabineros treasury and funneling the money into private accounts. They took millions of dollars in taxpayer money, in other words, and pocketed it.

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