Peru President Dina Boluarte’s home raided in luxury watch investigation

Dozens of officers involved in operation to locate Rolex watches President Boluarte has reportedly not disclosed.

Police guard outside President Dina Boluarte's house during a raid ordered by the Attorney General's Office aimed at seizing Rolex watches as part of a preliminary investigation into alleged illicit enrichment in Lima, Peru, Saturday, March 30, 2024. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)
Police outside Peruvian President Dina Boluarte's house during a raid ordered by the attorney general's office in Lima, Peru [Martin Mejia/AP Photo]

The home of Peru’s President Dina Boluarte has been raided as part of a continuing corruption investigation linked to undisclosed luxury watches, police said.

The AFP news agency reported, citing a police document, that about 40 officials were involved in the raid early on Saturday to search for Rolex watches that Boluarte had not declared.

The joint operation between the police and the prosecutor’s office was broadcast on the local television channel Latina. Televised images showed government agents from an investigative team breaking into the president’s residence with a sledgehammer, The Associated Press news agency reported.

As government agents surrounded the house in the Surquillo district of the capital, Lima, officers blocked oncoming traffic. The president did not appear to be home at the time.

The raid “is for the purpose of search and seizure,” police said of the operation authorised by the judiciary at the request of the attorney general’s office.

“Personnel from the palace provided all the facilities for the diligence requested,” the presidency said on social media platform X, adding that it was carried out “normally and without any incident”.

However, Peruvian Prime Minister Gustavo Adrianzen criticised the raids.

“The political noise that is being made is serious, affecting investments and the entire country,” he wrote on X. “What has happened in the last few hours is disproportionate and unconstitutional actions.”

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

‘Clean hands’

In an address to the nation later on Saturday, Boluarte, 61, slammed the police raid of her home and the presidential palace, calling the measures taken “arbitrary, disproportionate and abusive”.

“I took office with clean hands and thus I will retire from the presidency in 2026,” the president said.

Authorities launched an investigation into Boluarte this month after local news outlet La Encerrona reported that she had worn various Rolex watches at official events.

Responding at the time to questions about how she could afford such expensive timepieces on a public salary, she said they were a product of working hard since she was 18 years old, and reportedly urged the media not to delve into personal matters.

Al Jazeera’s Mariana Sanchez, reporting from Lima, said experts estimate that the watches’ value is around half a million dollars.

“If one goes back in time before she was president or vice president, Boluarte was the head of a government institution where she made a salary of about $1,000 a month, and now about $4,300 every month, so many people are saying she didn’t have the means to buy these watches,” she said.

Attorney General Juan Villena this week criticised Boluarte’s request to delay her appearance before the court for two weeks, emphasising her obligation to cooperate with the investigation and provide proof of purchase for her watches.

He also said Boluarte was obligated to produce the three Rolex watches for investigation and warned against their disposal or destruction.

The government comptroller later announced it would review Boluarte’s asset declarations from the past two years to search for any irregularities. Through it all, the president has staunchly defended herself.

Boluarte came to power in July 2021 as vice president and social inclusion minister, and then took office as president in December 2022 after former President Pedro Castillo tried to dissolve Congress and rule by decree, leading to his quick removal and arrest.

At least 49 people were killed in the protests that followed.

Critics accuse Boluarte’s government of taking an increasingly authoritarian bent as it staves off demands for early elections and works with members of Congress on laws that threaten to undermine the independence of Peru’s judicial system.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies