Rolex case: Peruvian president's home searched by armed police for luxury watches

Rolex case: Peruvian president's home searched by armed police for luxury watches

The house of the President of Peru was searched by armed police officers in search of luxury watches. The government criticized the move, with the South American country's prime minister calling it "disproportionate and unconstitutional."

Peru's government on Saturday criticized a search of the home of its President Dina Boluarte as part of an investigation into possible illicit enrichment and failure to declare possession of a luxury watch, calling it “disproportionate and unconstitutional.”

The investigation was prompted by an investigation by the Peruvian news agency La Encerrona about Boluarte's watch. After reviewing thousands of photographs of the president, La Encerrona determined that Boluarte owns at least 14 luxury watches. Peruvian media have since dubbed the incident the “Rolex case.”

Television footage showed police forced entry into Boluarte's residence early on Saturday, apparently after calls from officials to allow them access to search for evidence went unanswered, Reuters noted.

Boluarte's house is located in the Surquillo district of Lima, a few kilometers from the government palace.

About 20 prosecutors and 20 police officers first searched Boluarte's home before entering the palace on Saturday morning, Justice Minister Eduardo Arana said. President Boluarte herself has not commented on the raid.

“The palace staff provided all the conditions for carrying out the necessary checks,” the presidential administration said, adding that they took place “as usual and without any incidents.”

However, Peruvian Prime Minister Gustavo Adrianzen criticized the raids. “The political noise being made is serious, it affects investments and the entire country,” he wrote on X. “What has happened over the past few hours is a disproportionate and unconstitutional action.”

Adrianzen said that the president was at her residence in the government palace and that she would make statements to the prosecutor's office when called. He also told radio station RPP that there was “no way” the ministers or Boluarte were planning to resign.

Two weeks ago, prosecutors launched a preliminary investigation after local news outlet La Encerrona reported that the president owned several Rolex watches.

The purpose of the investigation was to determine whether there were grounds for a formal investigation.

Dina Boluarte, who took office in December 2022, admitted she owns a Rolex watch but said she bought it with money she earned as a child.

Earlier this month, she said she walked into the president's office with clean hands and would leave the same way.

“I came to the presidential palace with clean hands and I will leave with clean hands, as I promised the Peruvian people,” she said.

Boluarte's office said in a statement early Saturday that the searches were completed “without incident.” Her lawyer, Mateo Castaneda, told Peruvian broadcaster RPP that the police presence was excessive and intended to “put on a show.” He added that police took photographs of about 10 watches, but he could not confirm which brands.

Prosecutors tried unsuccessfully to conduct an inspection of Boluarte's office hours last Wednesday, but her lawyers said there was a scheduling conflict and asked for it to be rescheduled.

The investigation into Boluarte is the latest in a long history of investigations into Peruvian presidents and senior officials.

Boluarte succeeds Pedro Castillo, a former teacher and union leader from rural Peru, as president in December 2022. Castillo was impeached and removed from office after attempting to dissolve Congress and impose an emergency government, a tactic that lawmakers saw as an attempted coup. He was then accused of sedition and conspiracy, which he denies.

Castillo's election follows a succession of emergency and interim leaders following the overthrow of former President Martin Vizcarra, who was impeached in November 2020 over corruption allegations. Vizcarra's predecessor, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, resigned in 2018 amid a corruption scandal involving large Brazilian conglomerate Odebrech. And President Kuczynski's predecessor, Ollanta Humala, is currently on trial on money laundering charges. Humala has pleaded not guilty.

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