Campaign finance scandal causes waves in Chile as case hit courts

miércoles 4 de marzo de 2015 17:43 GYT

* Owners of Banco Penta charged with tax evasion, bribery

* Politicians also being probed

* Case is latest in wave of political and financial scandals

SANTIAGO, March 4 (Reuters) - Charges of bribery and tax evasion were formally pressed against the owners of a Chilean financial company on Wednesday, in a probe that has sucked in business leaders and politicians and angered Chileans.

Investigators formalized the allegations against Carlos Delano and Carlos Lavin, owners of Banco Penta, which has insurance operations and controls private health group Banmedica .

The prosecutors have asked the judge to hold Delano and Lavin in custody pending trial.

A probe into fake receipts allegedly used by the Penta owners to dodge taxes has widened. Prosecutors say they now have evidence that such receipts were also used to make illegal campaign finance contributions, principally to the right-wing UDI party.

The scandal has caused waves in Chile, which is proud of its reputation as a relatively corruption-free part of Latin America but has been buffeted by a number of cases over the last year that have weakened trust in the business and political elite.

Thursday's hearing was covered live throughout the day by local broadcasters, with protesters outside the courts shouting abuse at the accused as they emerged.   Continuación...