An investigation published by newspaper La República on Tuesday reveals that Joaquin Ramirez bought real estate properties worth US$16.5 million.
Until a few days ago, the re-elected congressman was the Secretary General of Fuerza Popular, the party led by right-wing presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori. He is also the main financer of Fujimori’s campaign. Ramirez is currently under investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency for allegedly laundering drug money and is also being investigated for money laundering by the Peruvian State Prosecutor.
The international scandal broke on May 16 when news reports cited a DEA informant claiming to have recorded Ramirez admitting he was given US$15 million in drug money to be laundered by Fujimori. Fuerza Popular’s immediate reaction was to deny the report and insist there were no reasons to separate Ramirez from the party. Nevertheless, the scandal forced Ramirez to resign as Secretary General of the party two days later.
Several of the properties owned by Ramirez are used as offices for Fujimori’s campaign. The report by La República lists 18 locations under the names of Ramirez and his wife worth over US$2 million. Other properties worth over US$14 million are registered to companies owned by Ramirez, including two apartments in Miami, Florida.
Most of the properties under investigation were not included in Ramirez’s sworn declarations, required as part of his bid to Congress. It was only after journalists began investigations earlier this month that Ramirez admitted to not including all of his properties in his original declarations, and to listing these properties only after investigations began. Ramirez’s assets have increased in value in recent years from US$4 million to US$18 million.
The State Prosecutor has been investigating Ramirez since 2014, but has now vowed to re-evaluate earlier findings given the DEA’s latest reports.
Congresswoman Rosa Mavila is in charge of the commission investigating the infiltration of drug money in politics. According to her, “authorities should ask Ramirez to explain where [he got] the capital investments for his companies.”
Ramirez, who started working as a bus ticket salesman, has not provided any information about how he became a multimillionaire.
The State Prosecutor has accused Fuerza Popular and Ramirez of delaying the investigation. Ramirez was supposed to testify on Monday regarding finances for Keiko’s campaign in 2011. However the Party cancelled the meeting, arguing he should not testify given that he is no longer Secretary General.
It was also recently made public that Ramirez filed police claims for the supposed loss of massive amounts of paperwork pertaining to his companies a few weeks after the State Prosecutor’s investigations began in 2014.