In what represents the latest in a series of cases to expose ties between Peru's elite and criminal groups, a prominent businessman and former presidential campaign advisor is now among the Peruvian government's most wanted fugitives.
Martin Belaunde Lossio, who has been on the run since May, is accused by the Attorney General's Office of using one of his companies to help the former governor of Peru's Ancash province -- Cesar Alvarez -- embezzle money to finance criminal activities, reported El Comercio.
Peru's Congress has also opened an investigation into Belaunde's irregular business dealings, which allegedly include an "irregular lobbying" (read: bribery) scheme to secure government contracts in several provinces including Madre de Dios and Cusco.
The allegations have created a stir among Peru's political class because Belaunde has ties to Humala and his wife, Nadine Heredia. In addition to serving as the press advisor for Humala's 2006 campaign, Belaunde paid Heredia $30,000 to act as a consultant for one of his companies. Belaunde and his father were also major campaign contributors, as was the manager of a Spanish company Belaunde allegedly helped win $51 million dollars in government contracts.
On December 3, Heredia did not deny her connections to Belaunde but stated that she and her husband had been unaware of Belaunde's alleged illegal activities. However, the fugitive former governor of the Madre de Dios province, Luis Aguirre Pastor, recently claimed that Humala knew about Belaunde's business dealings in his province.
InSight Crime Analysis
The fact that Belaunde colluded with high-level officials raises serious questions about how elites use power to do licit and illicit business in Peru. In Belaunde's case, his alleged ties to jailed former governor Alvarez are especially troubling because Alvarez stands accused of running a criminal organization that relied on assassins to get rid of adversaries.
Revelations about Belaunde's alleged criminal activities follow on the heels of the capture of Rodolfo Orellana, a prominent businessman and lawyer who allegedly ran an extensive money laundering and land theft network. Like Belaunde, Orellana had ties to Peru's political elite: his ex-wife, who is also accused of participating in the network, reportedly worked for former President Alejandro Toledo, and two congressmen have been linked to his alleged criminal activities.
SEE ALSO: Peru News and Profiles
The cases of Belaunde and Orellana are far from the only examples of alleged ties between criminal networks and Peru's political elite. Three of Peru's recent presidents have been implicated in illegal activity, including former President Alan Garcia, who has been investigated for allegedly participating in a "pay-for-pardons" scheme involving convicted drug traffickers. In addition, the run up to Peru's October elections saw over 100 candidates with ties to drug trafficking cases.