The Puerto Montt Oral Criminal Court handed down a sentencing verdict against the former mayor of Puerto Varas on Saturday Alvaro Berger, as perpetrator of the committed crime of tax fraud. Beger perpetrated the crime in September 2015.
By unanimous resolution, the court – composed of magistrates Rosario Cardenas Carvajal (President), Patricia Miranda Alvarado (editor) e Andrés Villagra Ramírez– After rigorous deliberation, it established both the occurrence of the offense and the guilty participation of Berger Schmidt in the established facts.
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In turn, the court decreed the acquittal of Berger, for lack of accreditation, by the prosecution and by the plaintiff, who charged him with the crime of fraudulent obtaining of state benefits.
The court will announce the sentence on January 19 at 21:00. Berger faces a five-year prison sentence.
The facts: the trip to Argentina
According to the minutes of the deliberation, on October 15, 2014, the Puerto Varas City Council agreed, on the proposal of the then Mayor Berger, the trip of a delegation of the municipality, led by the municipal authority, to San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina.
The purpose of the trip was to sign an “Agreement for tourism promotion, cultural exchange, marketing of regional products of the popular solidarity economy and others”, between the two municipalities.
Berger organized a Foreign Service Commission in September 2015, made up of himself, the advisers Fredy Opitz Vergara, Luis Guzman Cabezas Y Hector Jacob Riquelme, and seven city officials. The entourage also included a special guest from the mayor: Paola Levican Riverawho at that time had a romantic relationship with the municipal head.
“For this service fee, a total of $5,338,080, divided into $424,350, which Berger Schmidt fraudulently obtained for himself, and $4,931,730, were paid in total for advance travel expenses and fixed funds from those he allowed were done knowingly, so that the municipality would be defrauded,” reads the resolution.
The “payments were made with municipal funds, through the issuance of checks, which were all issued and paid to the recipients of the service fee”, the text adds.
The court ruled that the commission did not achieve its goal. “Neither Berger Schmidt, nor any municipal official of Puerto Varas, on his behalf, made formal preliminary contact for this purpose with any official of the Municipality of San Carlos de Bariloche, since there was never any real intention to materialize the stated purpose and formalised. and entrusted to the aforementioned commission for services abroad”, they specified.
“In this way, Álvaro Berger Schmidt, in the capacity he has held to date, abusing his position, abusing the appearance of legality and legitimacy that his actions as mayor have generated, maneuvered to obtain improper payments, allowing payments to the his entourage, knowing that the trip lacked public interest,” the resolution said.