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‘Rolex case’ sees Peruvian police raid presidential palace over leader’s reported 14 luxury watches

Armed police raided Peru’s government palace and the private home of President Dina Boluarte in search of Rolexes and other luxury watches as part of a preliminary corruption inquiry.

Police broke down the door to her property late Friday after officials apparently ignored orders to open up, Reuters reported.

The probe was prompted by Peruvian news outlet La Encerrona’s investigation into Boluarte’s watches. After reviewing thousands of photographs of the President, La Encerrona determined that Boluarte owned at least 14 luxury watches.

Peruvian media have since dubbed the incident the “Rolex case.”

Boularte had denied any wrongdoing before the raid, saying anything she owned was a result of her hard work.

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

Boularte’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 designed to “make a show.” He added that police had taken photos of approximately 10 watches but he could not confirm what brands.

Castaneda said that Boularte is scheduled to testify at the prosecutor’s office next month.

The president’s political allies were also quick to come to her defense and malign the raid as excessive.

Prime Minister Gustavo Adrianzen said in an interview with RPP that the raid, conducted late at night on a bank holiday, was an attack on the president’s dignity, while Justice Minister Eduardo Arana told reporters that the searches were unconstitutional.

Peru has in recent years been rattled by political instability, with president after president brought down by allegations of corruption or political malfeasance.

Boluarte succeeded Pedro Castillo, a former teacher and union leader from rural Peru, in December 2022. Castillo was impeached and removed from office after attempting to dissolve Congress and install an emergency government – a tactic that lawmakers slammed as an attempted coup.

He was then accused of rebellion and conspiracy, charges he denies.

Castillo’s election followed a string of emergency and interim leaders after the downfall of former President Martin Vizcarra, who was impeached over allegations of corruption in November 2020. Vizcarra’s predecessor, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, resigned in 2018 due to a corruption scandal involving the massive Brazilian conglomerate Odebrech. And the president before Kuczynski, Ollanta Humala, is currently facing trial on charges of money laundering. Humala has pleaded not guilty.

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