Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso is facing two investigations linked to offshore accounts following revelations from the recent Pandora Papers leaks. The public prosecution office has opened a preliminary tax fraud investigation at the request of the former presidential candidate Yaku Perez. In addition, the Constitutional Commission will conduct a 30-day probe to investigate if Lasso complied with the Ecuadorian law that forbids public servants from holding offshore companies.
Another former presidential candidate commented, “Unless, in some unusual and improbable way, some failure occurred on the part of the Lasso family’s legal team, regarding the administration of their assets, I do not expect these investigations to find any solid evidence of criminal wrongdoing.”
“I do not expect these investigations to find any solid evidence of criminal wrongdoing.”
Former presidential candidate, Ecuador
The Pandora Papers documents showed that Lasso authorised the transfer of companies held by two Panamanian foundations to newly created trusts in South Dakota, US. The companies provided monthly payments to Lasso’s wife, children and brother in the event of his death. Lasso denied the accusations and said that, in the past, he had legitimate investments in other countries.
Even if criminal wrongdoing is not evidenced, politically, this could spell disaster for Lasso. “For the first time, I feel that Lasso could be overthrown,” explained an expressive political analyst, “Voldemort (former President Correa) and his ‘Death Eaters’ will do whatever it takes to exploit this situation to bring down Lasso. The President isn’t doing himself any favours either, he is disconnected from the economic realities of the country and has isolated himself from young voters.”
“Voldemort (former President Correa) and his ‘Death Eaters’ will do whatever it takes to exploit this situation to bring down Lasso.”
Political analyst, Ecuador
Lasso was summoned by a legislative commission on 20 October but refused to attend, claiming that the Pandora Papers provided old and out of context information. Thus, he has requested the prosecution to file the investigation against him and plans to file an appeal based on dissemination of false information. Lasso also argues that he has been one of the largest private tax contributors in Ecuador having paid USD 588 million in direct and indirect taxes from 2005 to 2020.
Lasso also has the media on his side, according to the political analyst, “Lasso is trying to project an aura of calm and composure with the support of the media in an attempt to minimise protests.” This doesn’t seem to have worked out too well, these events have contributed to increase Ecuador’s social tensions and confrontations between protesters on the streets on 24 October left more than 40 injured. Notably, Ecuador has been under a state of emergency since 18 October when Lasso declared a 60-day state of emergency in an attempt to stem the rise of violent drug crime and prison riots in the country.