Peru's prime minister and leader of ruling party charged with money laundering

In connection with the financing of the Peru Libre party

AP/MARTIN MEJIA  -   Supporters of presidential candidate Pedro Castillo march in Lima, Peru, on 9 June 2021

The Prime Minister of Peru, Guido Bellido, and the leader of the main government party, Vladimir Cerrón, have been charged by the Public Prosecutor's Office for alleged money laundering in the financing of Perú Libre, the Marxist political party with which Pedro Castillo won the presidential elections.

In addition to Bellido and Cerrón, 15 other people were also included, among them Waldermar Cerrón, Vladimir's brother who was recently appointed spokesman for the parliamentary group of Perú Libre in Congress, where it is the largest parliamentary group with 37 members.

The three members of Perú Libre were included by prosecutor Richard Rojas in the investigation of the case known as "Los dinámicos del centro" (The dynamics of the centre), which investigates the alleged illegal financing of the party through illegal charges made by officials of the regional government of the central Andean department of Junín. 

PHOTO/AFP - Supporters of Pedro Castillo's Peru Libre party demonstrate

According to the prosecutor's ruling, reported by several national media, Vladimir Cerrón allegedly led a network of illegal charges to finance electoral campaigns and pay compensation for the corruption conviction that prevented him from being his party's presidential candidate.

In the cases of Bellido and Waldemar Cerrón, they are allegedly some of the beneficiaries of the money used in the last election campaign, where they were elected congressmen for the regions of Cusco and Junín, respectively.

In addition, Bellido is also accused of allegedly justifying terrorism by having paid tribute on social networks to Edith Lagos, one of the best known faces of the first bloody and terrorist actions of the Maoist guerrilla group Sendero Luminoso, in the early 1980s.

AFP/LUKAS GONZALEZ - Peru Libre leader Pedro Castillo

The Peruvian Public Prosecutor's Office has considered that the case of "Los Dinámicos del Centro" should be transferred from Junín to the capital Lima to be taken over by the Supraprovincial Corporate Prosecutor's Office Specialising in Crimes of Corruption of Public Officials, whose head is the prosecutor Vanessa Díaz. 

This legal setback for Peru Libre, the first party of regional origin in Peru to reach the national government, comes at a time when the Council of Ministers of President Pedro Castillo has yet to go to Parliament to ask for a vote of investiture.

Since taking office on 28 July, the executive has been criticised by the opposition for being made up of several members of the more orthodox left, including Bellido himself.