Peru police search home of President amid ongoing asset declaration scandal

Peruvian Public Ministry and Division of Investigation of High Complexity Crimes (DIVIAC) agents carried out a search operation at President Dina Boluarte’s residence and the Government Palace between Friday night and Saturday morning as part of their investigations into the Rolex Case.

On March 18, the Public Prosecutor’s Office initiated preliminary proceedings against the President for alleged crimes of illicit enrichment and failure to declare assets in documents due to her omission to declare watches in her possession. This action was prompted by a report from an independent media organization, which highlighted that the President had been seen wearing up to three Rolex watches at various official events. The initial prices of these watches range from $6,000 to $20,000, according to collectors.

According to a confidential document, the judicial order issued by Supreme Judge Checkley Soria authorized the search operation based on sufficient evidence, including a statement from the manager of Casa Banchero the only Peruvian official distributor of Rolex watches denying Boluarte had purchased the watches from his establishment. In the same statement, the businessman indicated that verifying the authenticity of the watches requires a specialized procedure performed by an accredited expert with the “watch in hand.”

The judicial resolution noted that despite Boluarte’s statements of willingness to cooperate with the investigations, she allegedly obstructed previous proceedings by failing to appear for questioning and refusing to exhibit the watches on the scheduled date.

With the search warrant, the search of the President’s residence took place on the night of March 29 and lasted for more than five hours, during which doors had to be forced for entry, and some assets were seized. Subsequently, the agents and the prosecutorial team went to the Government Palace to continue the operation, which lasted until 9 a.m. on Saturday.

The Presidency stated that it provided all necessary assistance for the operation. However, upon leaving the Government Palace, the Public Prosecutor’s Office did not provide further details.

Following these events, Prime Minister Gustavo Adrianzén described the operation as an “affront to the dignity of the President.” In a press conference, the Prime Minister stated that the search was “disproportionate, unjustified, illegal and unconstitutional.” The Minister of Justice remarked that this unprecedented action threatened democratic institutionalism as it showcased the politicization of justice.

The President’s lawyer argued that it was an “unnecessary” measure since the legal defense had requested rescheduling the search so they could clarify the facts, a request that had not yet been answered. However, the lawyer stated that Prosecutor Mendoza had verbally informed them the operation would be rescheduled for the following Friday. The President did not participate in the statements on the advice of her lawyer.

The Rolex case has not only impacted criminal proceedings but has also drawn the attention of the Congressional Oversight and Control Commission, which summoned the Attorney General and the Comptroller General of the Republic to provide information on the preliminary proceedings. In the hours following the investigation, various congressmen expressed support for a potential presidential vacancy and for advancing the elections.