SANTIAGO, June 30 (Reuters) - Chilean energy firm Enersis’ chairman has resigned in an attempt to distance the company from questions over his role in a wide-ranging probe into irregular campaign financing.
Enersis, which is controlled by Italian giant Enel , said in a statement on Tuesday that Jorge Rosenblut was stepping down and would be replaced by Enel’s Head of Legal and Corporate Affairs Francisco de Borja.
Rosenblut has resigned “with the intention of ensuring that the company is not exposed to inappropriate attention from the media while he focuses on dealing with allegations related to his personal affairs in Chile and not linked to his role at Enersis,” the company said.
Chile’s business and political class has been rocked in recent months by accusations that some executives used fake tax receipts to make illicit campaign finance contributions.
Local media has reported that Rosenblut, who was named as Enersis chairman last November, has been asked to testify in hearings on the case after a fundraiser for Chile’s ruling party said he was involved.
Last week Enersis unit Endesa Chile said it had found ‘misclassified spending’ during its own internal investigations, and had updated its policy to prohibit all political contributions.
Enel bought a controlling stake in Latin American electricity distributor Enersis last year, as it moves its focus to fast-growing emerging markets.
It has sought to imprint its own management style on the company, replacing executives with Enel veterans and reorganizing Enersis to create a more streamlined organization.
“I am at ease with this decision (to resign) because it is about something bigger, the early success of Enersis’ reorganization, avoiding dragging the company into unnecessary exposure to unrelated issues,” said Rosenblut in a letter on Tuesday.
He did not comment on the ongoing investigations.
Another Chilean company, fertilizer maker SQM , saw a quarter of its value wiped out after Canadian-appointed directors resigned in protest at its own handling of the illicit payments probe.
Enersis shares, which have fallen around 10 percent since the start of May, closed up 0.8 percent on the Santiago bourse on Tuesday.
Reporting by Fabian Cambero, Writing by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Christian Plumb