Corruption Holding Peru Back from Being a Developed Country – Comptroller General

Peru’s red-hot economic growth might not be enough to lift the country out of its underdevelopment status, as corruption is draining it of the economic gains, Comptroller General Fuad Khoury said Tuesday.

“The economic losses from corruption are stopping development,” said Khoury, according to state news agency Andina. “They are so grave that we could remain in the condition of an emerging country or even underdeveloped for the rest of the century.”

Khoury, who was speaking at an international anti-corruption conference, said the annual losses from corruption could have been used to build hospitals, roads and other basic services that the Andean country is lacking.

Corruption, which is widespread in Peru, reached a pinnacle in the 1990s during the administration of Alberto Fujimori. Transparency International has ranked the Fujimori administration as one of the most corrupt in the 20th century.

Fujimori and his shadowy spy chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, set up a network of corruption by bribing opposition politicians, judges and media owners, and blackmailing where bribes were refused. Fujimori is believed to have stolen about $600 million from the Peruvian state during his 10 year term, which was also marred by human rights crimes that have landed him in prison.

More recently, politicians from a variety of different parties have been charged with corruption.

In 2011, leftist President Ollanta Humala’s second vice president, legislator Omar Chehade, was forced to resign after allegations emerged that he tried to influence police officers into evicting workers at a sugar estate who opposed the entry of the new owners. Chehade has denied any wrongdoing and continues in his Congressional post.

This year, a former deputy minister of Justice, Gerardo Castro, was sentenced to a five-year prison sentence for trying to bribe a government official in order to extend fishing licenses for some small vessels. Castro served in Alan Garcia’s second administration.

In October, Congresswoman Cecilia Chacon of the right-wing Fuerza 2011 party, which is made up of Fujimori supporters, was found guilty of being complicit in ill-gotten gains. A court ruled that Chacon received money from her father Walter Chacon, a retired general and cabinet minister in Fujimori’s government who also faces a number of investigations for corruption. Chacon received a four-year suspended prison sentence and was ordered to pay civil reparation of 2 million soles (approximately $800,000). The court also said that Chacon cannot hold public office for three years.

Despite the seemingly endless corruption trials, Khoury, the comptroller general, said he does see a willingness among high-ranking civil servants to confront the problem. Khoury said that increasingly, officials are recognizing that corruption is derailing Peru’s social and economic development.

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