Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Corruption Probe Opens Window to Military's Secret Funding

Many of Chile's institutions have been caught up in various corruption probes, including government officials, major corporations and the soccer federation. Add the armed forces to that list. It started with accusations that some lower-ranked officers stole funds from a military budget whose expenditures are often kept from the public. Now, investigators are targeting a former head of the Army. Retired Gen. Juan Miguel Fuente-Alba is suspected of having improperly profited while he was commander in chief of the Army. Among the facts that have come to light during the probe is the extensive network of suppliers the Army uses. Some 120 companies sell goods and services to the Army, expenditures that are kept secret under the law. The sums totaled an average of $200 million between 2005 and 2014. That's roughly one-fifth of a budget derived from a 10% tax on sales by the state-owned Codelco mining giant. Under a government transparency program, the salaries of the military commanders is now disclosed. The Army chief makes 4,049,575 pesos a month, or nearly $6,000 in U.S. currency. The Navy's top officer earns close to $6,200 while the top Air Force general gets $6,600. Those are larger paychecks than their counterparts in Peru and Colombia receive, according to El Mercurio. A Chilean Army general in charge of a division earns $5,737 a month, and a brigadier general $5,466. The top Air Force officers make more than Army and Navy officers in the same rank. A FACh general earns $6,336 a month and a brigadier general $6,057.

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