LIMA, July 8 Peru's President-elect Ollanta
Humala is facing his first ethics crisis after his brother, a
director of his political party, flew to Russia to meet Gazprom
executives about investing in the Andean country's gas fields.
Peruvian newspapers say the July 5 meeting reeked of
nepotism after communiques by Gazprom and Russia's foreign
ministry said Alexis Humala was sent as a "special
representative" of the president-elect.
But the president-elect, who campaigned as an
anti-corruption crusader, said his brother went to Moscow
without his knowledge to angle for business with the world's
largest natural gas company, state-controlled Gazprom
Alexis Humala attended a university in Russia and lived
there for many years.
Ollanta Humala takes office on July 28 and has been a harsh
critic of the model for Peru's gas sector, saying exports of
the fuel put the country's energy security at risk.
Columnists have urged the president-elect to expel his
brother from the Nationalist Party they founded together years
ago. They have also urged the president-elect to ban Alexis
Humala from holding any government posts.
"I hope Ollanta Humala does the right thing and removes his
brother from the party. If not, his anti-corruption discourse
will be nothing more than a farce," Augusto Alvarez Rodrich, a
columnist for the progressive newspaper La Republica, which
supported Humala's candidacy, said on Friday.
Once in office, one of Humala's early tasks will be
renegotiating higher royalties on gas exports made by the
Camisea natural gas consortium.
Argentina's Pluspetrol leads the consortium, which also
includes Spain's Repsol (REP.MC), U.S.-based Hunt Oil and South
Korea's SK Energy (096770.KS).
Humala, a leftist who has promised to govern as a moderate,
has promised to respect contracts held by companies and avoid
unilaterally changing rules for the private sector.
The departing government of President Alan Garcia started
renegotiating terms on export royalties in July 2010 to
mitigate a price distortion that has angered consumers because
exported gas costs less than gas bought on the domestic
But the negotiations bogged down and Humala's government
will have to resume them in Peru's small but growing sector,
which is potentially worth billions of dollars.
Gazprom doesn't have operations in Peru but in recent years
has made inroads into Venezuela, Bolivia and, to some extent,
Brazil and Argentina.
(Reporting by Terry Wade and Patricia Velez; Editing by Vicki