Public Ministry opens 5th investigation into Peruvian President days before his first anniversary of taking office

By July 27, 2022

Peru’s Public Ministry opened a fifth investigation into President Pedro Castillo just days before the anniversary of his taking office.

Current Attorney General Patricia Benavides reactivated an influence peddling investigation into the president on July 22. The investigation was initiated by former Attorney General Zoraida Ávalos, but was suspended until the end of Mr. Castillo’s presidential mandate.

According to the Public Ministry, the latest investigation is looking into possible interference by Mr. Castillo in the purchase of biodiesel in favor of a private company called Heaven Petroleum Operators (HPO).

At the end of 2021 it was made public that Mr. Castillo met in the presidential residence with HPO’s owner, Samir Abudayeh, and then-general manager of the state-owned oil company Petroperú, Hugo Chávez Arévalo. 

Two weeks later, Mr. Abudayeh won a tender for USD $74 million with the Peruvian state, according to thePanorama” television program.

Peru’s Attorney General Patricia Benavides. Image courtesy of ANDINA/Héctor Vinces.

Pedro Castillo: Peru’s most-investigated president 

Mr. Castillo is the first president in Peru’s history to be investigated while in office. He currently has five open investigations ranging from corruption and collusion to plagiarizing his master’s thesis. 

Here’s a quick break down of each of the other pending investigations into the president: 

  1. Obstructing justice

On July 21, the Public Ministry opened an investigation into the president for obstructing justice related to his removal of former Minister of the Interior Mariano González two days prior. 

Investigators are looking into whether the minister’s removal was related to his formation of a special police unit tasked with hunting fugitives associated with Mr. Castillo, including his nephew Fray Vásquez, former Minister of Transport and Communications Juan Silva and former presidential secretary Bruno Pacheco, who are under investigation for alleged corruption in the Ministry of Transport and Communications. 

Bruno Pacheco. Image courtesy of ANDINA.

  1. Corruption related to the Ministry of Transport and Communications

On May 29, the Public Ministry announced that Mr. Castillo was included in an investigation into Mr. Silva along with six congressmen from the Acción Popular political party.

The officials are accused of being part of a criminal organization within the Ministry of Transport and Communications that benefited from alleged corruption related to awarding public works contracts to Peruvian and Chinese construction companies for the construction of the Tarata bridge in north-central Peru.

  1. Irregular promotions within the military 

The Public Ministry opened an investigation on November 11, 2021 into Defense Minister Walter Ayala, and Mr. Pacheco, for allegedly pressuring the heads of the Army and the Air Force to favor the promotion of certain officers.

In July 2022, Attorney General Benavides announced that she had included President Castillo in the investigation, alleging that he headed the group that intervened in the irregular promotions of military personnel. 

  1. Alleged plagiarism

In early May, the Public Ministry opened an investigation into whether President Castillo and his wife, Lilia Paredes, plagiarized over half of their master’s thesis a decade ago while attending César Vallejo University (UCV).

The investigation came after a report on TV news program “Panorama” that Mr. Castillo, 52, had plagiarized 54% of a 121-page thesis that he wrote together with his wife in 2012.