Updated 10:07 PM EST, Mon, Nov 23, 2020

Chile: Right-Wing Politician Jovino Novoa Convicted of Tax Fraud By Court

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Chilean former senator, Jovino Novoa, was deemed guilty of tax fraud on Friday involving over $42,000 of campaign funds which was redirected from the financial holding firm, Penta.

According to TelesurTV, the high-ranking Independent Democratic Union (UDI) party member was found guilty of tax fraud in the verdict handed by a Chilean judge on November 27, making him the first politician to be convicted since the investigation of the entire illicit campaign financing scandal began.

Based on the outlet's report, the UDI party member and right-wing politician was instrumental to the illicit transfer of campaign funds to former presidential candidate, Pablo Longueira.

Reuters revealed that Novoa, who was also a former collaborator of late dictator, Augusto Pinochet, had been issuing fake tax receipts to cover up the transfer of funds to the political party.

Before the verdict was handed down, Novoa remained consistent in his denial of the accusations and claimed that he was just a victim of political persecution.

But after the decision was revealed in court, Novoa acknowledged the "material facts" that the prosecution presented to support the accusations based on his statement during the hearing.

As noted, Novoa was the first politician to be convicted, but he will certainly not be the last, according to Chilean prosecutor, Carlos Gajardo.

"This clearly sets a precedent: it's the first conviction, but I doubt it will be the last," Gajardo said about what has been dubbed as the "Penta case," in a statement to the press while exiting the courthouse.

Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet, the current leader of the country, has already taken steps towards clearing the relatively corruption-free nation of abusive officials and putting them to justice.

In June, she introduced several legislative measures that imposed more stringent regulations for the financing campaigns of political parties.

President Bachelet's new provisions also include harsher penalties for those found guilty of corruption.

Novoa will be sentenced a week following his conviction, although there is very low possibility that he will actually be incarcerated.

Despite this, prosecutors asked for a three-year sentence for the former senator which equates to probation under the Chilean law.

The investigation of the "Penta scandal" began in 2014 and mostly involved members of the right-wing or the opposing party.

However, the scope of the problem has broadened since Sebastian Davalos was accused of using his influence as President Bachelet's eldest son to acquire a bank loan from the business group.

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