2008 Peru oil scandal
The 2008 Peru oil scandal started after a Peruvian TV station broadcast an audio tape of an alleged conversation between a government official and a lobbyist agreeing to help a firm win contracts. The speakers were allegedly Alberto Quimper, an executive in Petroperú, the state company in charge of promoting foreign investment in the petroleum sector, and a prominent lobbyist and politician member of the Apra party Rómulo León Alegría discussing payments to help the Norwegian company Discover Petroleum win contracts. This was followed by street protests led by workers, teachers, builders and doctors for the resignation of the Council of Ministers. The scandal led to the resignation of Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo and the appointment of a new cabinet headed by Yehude Simon.
On October 5, 2008, TV news magazine Cuarto Poder broadcast alleged audio recordings of Alberto Quimper, vice-president of Petroperú, and Rómulo León Alegría, a lobbyist and prominent member of the APRA, the party that was currently in office. In the tape, they discussed secretive $10,000 monthly payments to Quimper, León and Ernesto Arias-Schreiber, the legal representative of the company Discover in Peru, in exchange for steering lucrative petroleum contracts to explore offshore oil blocks and gas fields in Peru Discover's way.
Thousands of workers, including teachers, builders and doctors protested in Peru calling for the resignation of the government. On October 10, 2008, Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo submitted resignation of his cabinet to president Alan García. A new cabinet led by 61 year old Yehude Simon was sworn in on October 14, 2008. He had been the president of the Lambayeque Region and is from outside the ruling party.
Simon was a congressman in the 1980s for the now defunct Izquierda Unida party and later went on to found a new party, Patria Libre. He was accused in 1992 during President Alberto Fujimori's authoritarian government of justifying terrorism and was convicted to 20 years in prison. Amnesty International and local human rights groups worked in his defense and he was released after 8 ½ years with a pardon granted by transitional President Valentín Paniagua. He was also offered a public apology by a later President Alejandro Toledo. In 2002 and 2006, Simon was elected president of Peru's northern Lambayeque Region.
- "Oil contract scandal shakes Peru". BBC News. 2008-10-07. "company involved, Discover Petroleum of Norway, has denied any role in the scandal."
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