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Dr. Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera Echenique (born December 1, 1949) is a Chileanmarker economist, investor and politician. He is a member of the center-right National Renewal (RN) party, a constituent of the Alliance for Chile coalition, and a former Senator. In 2005, he ran in the Chilean presidential election, losing to Michelle Bachelet in a runoff. He is currently running again for president, representing Alliance for Chile in the election that will take place in December 2009.

Personal life

Piñera was born in Santiago, Chilemarker to Magdalena Echenique Rozas and José Piñera Carvallo, an engineer who worked for CORFO and was Chile's ambassador to Belgiummarker and to the United Nations. He is the third man of a family of four brothers and two sisters: Guadalupe, José Piñera (a former Minister of Labour under Augusto Pinochet), Pablo, Sebastián, Miguel (a singer) and Magdalena. He has an undergraduate degree in Economics from Chile's Catholic University as well as a Master's and Ph.D. in this subject from Harvard Universitymarker. He is married to Cecilia Morel Montes and has four children: Magdalena, Cecilia, Sebastián and Cristóbal. He is brother of Miguel Piñera, who according to el El Mercuriomarker frequently ask him for money.

On June 2008, Piñera underwent blepharoplasty on both upper and lower eyelids. He justified the operation purely on medical grounds, arguing he was slowly losing his peripheral vision, necessary for piloting aircraft.

As of March of 2009, Sebastian Piñera's net worth is estimated to be 1 billion USD.

Businesses

Piñera owns 100% of Chilevisión, a Chilean terrestrial television channel broadcasting nationwide; 27% of Lan Airlines (LAN), 13% of Colo-Colo, a football (soccer) club; and has important participation in companies like Quiñenco, Enersis, Soquimich, etc.

According to Forbes magazine, Piñera is a billionaire (his fortune is estimated at US$1.3 billion). His wealth is attributed in great part to his involvement in the introduction of credit cards to Chile in the late 1970s and his subsequent investments mainly in stock of LAN, a former state-owned company that he bought in 1994, together with the Cueto family.

In 1982 an arrest warrant was issued against Piñera. He was accused of violating the Banking Law during his time as general manager of the Bank of Talca. Piñera spent 24 days in hiding, while his lawyers appealed the order. A writ of habeas corpus was first rejected by the Appeals Court, but then approved by the Supreme Court, acquitting Piñera.

On July 2007 Piñera was fined approximately US$680,000 by Chile's securities regulator (SVS) for insider trading of LAN Airlines stock in mid-2006. Piñera denied any wrongdoing, and argued that the whole process was part of a political attack to damage his image. He did not appeal arguing that the court process could take years and interfere with his intention to run again for president in late 2009. Later that month he resigned from the boards of LAN and Quintec.

Political career

Piñera has stated he voted No in the 1988 plebiscite against Augusto Pinochet. In 1989 he headed the presidential campaign of Hernán Büchi, a former finance minister of the Pinochet government. During the same election process, Piñera was elected as Senator for East Santiago (1990–1998) and soon after joined the center-right National Renewal (RN) party. During his term as Senator he was a member of the Senate Finance Committee.

In 1992 Piñera's attempt to become his party's candidate for the following year's presidential election would end dramatically after he was involved in a scandal known as Piñeragate, wherein a wiretapped conversation between himself and a friend was revealed during a political television show he attended. In the conversation —made public by the station's owner, Ricardo Claro— he conspired to have his rival for the party's nomination, Evelyn Matthei, cornered during that show by a journalist close to Piñera. The tape was then revealed to have been illegally recorded by a member of the military and given to Matthei, who then gave it to Claro. Matthei stepped down from the presidential race as well.

Piñera was president of his party from 2001 to 2004. He tried to run for senator in 2001, but quit his campaign after he was threatened by his allied party —the Independent Democrat Union (UDI)— that 1999 presidential candidate Joaquín Lavín would not support candidates from Piñera's party if he did not step down and supported retired military Jorge Arancibia for that district instead.

On May 14, 2005 Piñera surprisingly announced his own candidacy for the 2005 presidential election (RN was supposed to support UDI's Lavín.) He described his political philosophy as Christian humanism. If elected, he would have become the first billionaire to hold office as President of Chile. In the first round of the election, on December 11, he obtained 25.4% of the vote, which placed him in second place. Since no candidate achieved an absolute majority, a runoff election was held on January 15, 2006, between himself and Michelle Bachelet of the governing coalition. Bachelet won the presidency with over 53% of the vote.

Currently, Piñera is running for president of Chile in the 2009 election. As of August of 2009, he is leading in opinion polls.

References

  1. Negro Piñera le pide "plata" a Tatán, El Mercurio. Published in August 8 2008. Retrieved on October 12, 2009.
  2. Las Últimas Noticias
  3. http://www.forbes.com/lists/2009/10/billionaires-2009-richest-people_Sebastian-Pinera_YLRC.html
  4. http://www.lanacion.cl/prontus_noticias_v2/site/artic/20070820/pags/20070820210305.html
  5. " The World's Billionaires" , accessed on March 09, 2008
  6. [1]
  7. " LAN Holder Fined for Insider Trading" Associated Press, accessed on July 11, 2007
  8. http://www.lanacion.cl/prontus_noticias/site/artic/20070731/pags/20070731222739.html
  9. Chile Is Ready to Elect a President Unlike Any Other - New York Times
  10. La Segunda (in Spanish), http://www.lasegunda.com/ediciononline/politica/detalle/index.asp?idnoticia=503667


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