Peruvian politician Keiko Fujimori is accused of leading a criminal organization

On Monday, Judge Juana Caballero began the trial against former presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori, leader of the political party Popular Force.

July 02, 2024 by Pablo Meriguet
Keiko Fujimori hugging her father Alberto Fujimori, former dictator of Peru. Photo: Keiko Fujimori

Keiko Fujimori, daughter of former Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori, has been accused of money laundering by Special Prosecutor José Domingo Pérez. According to the accusation, Keiko Fujimori received millionaire bribes from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht for the electoral campaigns of 2011 and 2016. Even though in Peru it was not illegal in those years to receive donations from private companies to finance electoral campaigns, Fujimori and her team did not declare the money that Odebrecht “donated”.

In addition, the Special Prosecutor’s Office claims that her party, Fuerza Popular (Popular Force), made 17 false declarations of sponsors for Fujimori’s electoral campaign, which correspond to contributions from various businessmen who gave money but did not want to appear as donors officially. The Special Prosecutor’s Office also announced that among the witnesses who will corroborate their hypothesis is Joaquín Ramírez, former secretary general of Popular Force. In this way, the prosecutors hope to prove that Popular Force operated as a criminal organization.

The case was named by the prosecutors of the special investigative team Lava Jato (Car Wash), as the Cocktails Case, in which 46 people are involved in a scheme of illicit financing. Within the case, there are several accusations such as money laundering, obstruction of justice, and false declaration. According to the Special Prosecutor’s Office, certain social events or ‘cocktail parties’ were held to camouflage the illicit donations that Odebrecht made to the Popular Force party. Fujimori, who according to the prosecutor was known in this alleged structure by the alias “Mrs. K”, allegedly led the criminal organization that allowed the money to be received and laundered.

Keiko Fujimori is not the first politician accused of having illicit ties with Odebrecht. Four former Peruvian presidents, Alejandro Toledo, Ollanta Humala, Pedro Pablo Kuczunski, and Alan García, were investigated by the Peruvian justice system for having illegal ties with the Brazilian company, specifically for having received bribes. Garcia committed suicide when the authorities were about to arrest him for these investigations, while the others were convicted for corruption. According to the Special Prosecutor’s Office, the fact that there is a continuous relationship between several presidential administrations and Odebrecht would demonstrate the profound influence of the Brazilian company in Peruvian politics for several decades.

“Fujimorism exists thanks to corruption”

Peruvian journalist, political analyst, and leftist activist Luis Varese told Peoples Dispatch that Odebrecht’s constant presence in the illicit financing of several Peruvian political parties is because the Brazilian company was looking for a right-wing candidate to win in Peru that could be easily managed through bribes. “Odebrecht has played, and continues to play, in different parts of the Third World, an immoral role of corrupting political parties and political organizations, to thus be able to win public infrastructure tenders fraudulently…In this way, Odebrecht’s interest, in carrying out this type of bribery, is to ensure that the political parties and the political leaderships they finance facilitate winning tenders for construction works,” Varese explained.

In addition, Varese clarifies that corruption has been one of the ways in which Fujimorism has operated, which has been institutionalized in Peru since the 90s, when Alberto Fujimori led the country: “One of the great triumphs of the CIA to implement the neoliberal model has been Fujimorism, which uses corruption as one of its strongest instruments. The free market made it possible for everything to be bought and sold, even the services provided by the State. This is the neoliberal model that (Alberto) Fujimori managed to implement during the 90s”.

Therefore, according to Varese, the judicial case against Keiko Fujimori is not a surprise and, therefore, will not cause significant changes either in Peruvian politics or within Popular Force, except if she is convicted before the new presidential elections. If this happens, Varese says, the big business sectors, some military, and some illegal groups that now back Fujimori would simply support another candidate that preserves their economic and political interests.

Why, if it was not illegal for Popular Force to receive donations from private companies, did they decide to hide such contributions? For Varese, this is because “there is a still unproven possibility that Keiko had enriched herself with a part of such contributions, and therefore they decided not to declare it and disguise it as if they had held raffles and cocktail parties where people supposedly donated money to her campaign…I suspect that she received much more money than she used in the electoral campaign to increase her family wealth.”

Finally, Varese clarifies that this case against Fujimori should not give great hope that Peruvian politics will improve. However, Varese continues, it is more beneficial for the interests of the popular sectors that “neither Keiko, nor her brother (Kenji), nor her father can legally participate [in the upcoming elections], although the National Congress is in favor of Fujimorism, and that can change the rules of the game.”