Peru Seeks 30 Year Sentence For Ex-Owner Of Peruvian Airlines

A Peruvian state attorney is seeking a 30 year prison sentence for businessman Cesar Cataño, the former owner of airline company Peruvian Airlines, for money laundering, newspaper El Comercio reported.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office accuses Cataño of laundering money from drug trafficking through a number of companies. El Comercio says these companies include Kanawaga Corporation SAC, Import Export Vizcar SA, Transportes Aereos Cielos Andinos SAC and Peruvian Airlines. 

A report by the Anti-drug police finds that Cataño has been unable to account for some $663 million between 1990 and 2000.

Twelve other people are also included in the state attorney’s investigation, and the prosecutor’soffice is seeking prison sentences of 10 to 25 years.

Cataño told El Comercio that he has not received notice of the accusation, and that his defense will handle the legal matters.

Cataño has been best known to the public as the owner of Peruvian Airlines, which was launched in 2009 with Lourdes Flores, until recently head of the center-right Unidad Nacional party, as president of the company.  Her connection to Cataño, to whom she was also legal counsel since at least 2004, was one of the factors that affected her rating in her unsuccessful campaign for mayor of Lima.

 In October 2011, Cataño announced that Irish aircraft leasing and operating company Aergo Group would pay $50 million for a 65% stake in the airline firm.  The sale, however, was never completed. Earlier, the Chilean airline PAL was also interested in acquiring the airline. 

According to journalist Cesar Hildebrandt, in March this year the official gazette El Peruano published the sale of Peruvian Airlines to Aztech Limited, a local company whose major shareholder (65%) is Martin Ruiz Andía.   

Cataño has long been accused of having connections to Peru’s growing drug trade. A secret government document, prepared following a mid-2010 meeting by the heads of Peruvian intelligence agencies, outlined the alleged drug bosses in Peru, the world’s top coca producing nation. Catano was on the “White List,” also known as the “Peruvian Kingpin Act,” which was leaked to El Comercio.

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