SANTIAGO, June 21 (Reuters) - Chile’s public prosecutor said on Tuesday it was investigating a former high-ranking cabinet official in President Michelle Bachelet’s government for bribery and tax offenses related to counsel provided to London-listed mining company Antofagasta Minerals.
Jorge Insunza was appointed secretary general minister, a post which includes whipping congressional votes for the president, in May 2015. He stepped down a month later amid a wave of criticism by lawmakers about counsel he had provided mining companies while a congressman.
Public prosecutor for Santiago’s eastern district, Manuel Guerra, told CNN Chile that Insunza was being investigated for counsel he provided Antofagasta Minerals through his company Virtus Consultores between 2007 and 2014, when he was a member of the Lower Chamber of Congress. During a portion of that time, he presided over the lower house’s mining commission.
“This investigation has been opened by us based on records we have in our power and which we have analyzed that show that monies were paid for counsel on issues related to mining by the former congressman Jorge Insunza,” Guerra said.
An official in the prosecutor’s office, who declined to be named, confirmed that it was opening an investigation.
Antofagasta Minerals tweeted that it would “collaborate with all the information that is being requested of them, convinced that it did not commit a crime.”
The chairmen of Antofagasta Minerals between 2007 and 2014 have been asked to testify.
Confidence in Bachelet, Chile’s government and lawmakers has been battered over the last couple of years in the wake of several high-profile money-in-politics scandals involving politicians across the political spectrum. (Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Richard Chang)