Robust Web of Corruption: Peru’s Intelligence Chief Vladimiro Montesinos

Case Solution

Kirsten Lundberg, Philip Heymann
Harvard Kennedy School ()

In 1990, President Alberto Fujimori came to power in Peru in a wave of public enthusiasm for the promised reforms. In fact, Fujimori achieved something of a miracle of economic recovery over the next five years. He also defeated an internal terrorist movement and proved to be a willing partner in the war on drugs. The international community, including the United States, admired and supported him. Beside Fujimori was a shadowy figure, Vladimiro Montesinos. Montesinos was never appointed to any official position, but he became the virtual intelligence chief and exercised a unique influence over Fujimori. His reputation was Mr. Fixit: he could do anything. Both Fujimori and the United States (had a relationship with the CIA) benefited from his services. With Montesinos’ support behind the scenes, the Fujimori government became increasingly authoritarian, expanding the influence of the executive over the judiciary, the military, and the legislature. But in September 2000, the reason for Montesinos’ remarkable effectiveness was dramatically revealed when a videotape of bribing an opposition congressman was televised. Throughout history, Montesinos has been exposed as the mastermind behind an elaborate network of corruption that spanned most areas of society: the legislature, justice, the media, the military, and industry. Based on the main evidence on videotape, this case paints a rarely fleeting picture of corruption in action. It describes the rise to power of Montesinos and the mechanisms and protocols of bribery and fraud. House number HKS 1722.0

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