Corrupt Peruvian officials have stolen over $800 million in public money over the last five years, said Peru’s Controller General, Fuad Khoury. Khoury was speaking at an International Conference on Corruption in Lima in February.

The CG’s office has allegedly detected 21 thousand criminal irregularities in recent years, involving some 11,000 public officials. Yet to date less than a thousand have been sanctioned.
Peru’s high levels of corruption play a major role in the illegal mining of gold. Miners, informal gold buyers and even government officials admit that authorities often demand bribes in return for looking the other way as artisanal miners destroy the Amazon jungle.

Transparency International ranked Peru 88th in the world in 2015 (#1, Denmark, being the least corrupt).

Lack of institutional oversight is largely to blame, along with high rates of poverty and lack of access to a fair and transparent justice system. This, according to the Business Anti-Corruption Portal, a privately funded organization that claims to work closely with the European Commission and several individual European nations.

Cesar Azcorra, an environment official in the Amazon region, told us that corruption is rampant in the area, and that he has received death threats by telephone for his efforts to protect the forest from mining.

Peru’s central government says its working hard to combat corruption in mining, via the office of the federal anti-mining “Czar” Antonio Fernandez Jeri. Fernandez, working with police and the military, has stepped up raids on mining camps in the Amazon in recent months. He says they won’t stop until the miners pull out altogether – a tough goal in a region where other forms of work are scarce.