Costa Rica

Cement Corruption Scandal in Costa Rica Points At 29 People, Including the President

The first person to appear in the list is none other than President of the Republic of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis
Cement Corruption Scandal in Costa Rica Points At 29 People, Including the President

The Legislative Commission that investigated the bank credits awarded to Juan Carlos Bolaños and his company SINOCEM in the cement corruption scandal in Costa Rica (cementazo) finally presented their report yesterday, recommending sanctions for 29 people, some belonging to the different government branches and others from two public banks.

The first person to appear in the list is none other than President of the Republic, Luis Guillermo Solis. The commission asks the Public Ethics Office of the Attorney General of the Republic to determine whether he was out of line and dishonest when the Presidency suggested Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) to name Mario Barrenechea as a general manager (the President denies this ever occurred). They consider he ignored two reports of the Ethics office of the Attorney General of the Republic that recommended sanctions against former director of the BCR Paola Mora and Mario Barrenechea. The commission also considered that the President pressured the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Commerce (MEIC) to go through with the changes in the regulations regarding the commercialization of cement in the country; and finally that Solis also used his position and through other involved parties pressured the General Customs Directorate to facilitate and quicken the nationalization and release of the china cement cargo back in 2016.

Regarding these conclusions, the President Luis Guillermo Solis made a public statement yesterday and denied his involvement in any of the actions, “As President of the Republic I can assure you that I have never allowed or will allow any act of corruption, influence peddling, or incorrect favoritism. I will subject myself with responsibility to any investigation that the Public Ethics Office will carry on and will provide gladly, as I always have, whatever is requested from me so that the truth can shine”.

The commission mentions another 28 people in the report, suggesting they are removed from their positions (the majority of them already have been removed) until investigations are concluded and recommends they are disbarred from occupying any public positions:

Mariano Figueres: Director of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), the congressmen asked President Solis to dismiss him from his position since they consider he failed to comply with the care of the President of the Republic by not making him aware that Juan Carlos Bolaños, with whom the President met, had been investigated by the DIS.

Daniel Gallardo: former president of the National Emergency Commission (CNE) and candidate to congress, for modifying requirements of open tenders to favor Juan Carlos Bolaños’ company back when Gallardo was the head of the CNE during the second government of Oscar Arias.

Paola Mora, Ronald Solis, Gustavo Arias, Alberto Raven, Francisco Molina, Evita Arguedas, Monica Segnini, all former directors of Banco de Costa Rica, the commission requested their investigation by the Ethics Office to determine whether or not they are responsible for any illegal actions. They supposedly accepted instructions from the Presidency to name Mario Barrenechea as general manager of the bank and modified the job’s profile so that he would qualify. Each of them is also being investigated for other irregular actions that allowed Bolaños to get the line of credit from BCR. The commission requested that all of them be disabled to opt for any public positions.

Pablo Villegas, Fabian Volio, Eduardo Ramirez, all with different positions in the Board of Directors of the BCR and signaled for having in one way or another allowed the naming of Mario Barrenechea as general manager.

Mario Barrenechea: general manager of BCR, currently under preventive imprisonment.

Welmer Ramos, former Minister of Economy
Walter Cespedes, former congressman
Fernando Rodriguez, former vice-Minister of Treasury
Benito Coghi, former director of Customs Office
Johnny Leiva, congressman
Otto Guevara, congressman and presidential candidate
Rolando Gonzales, congressman
Victor Morales Zapata, congressman

All of the above also under investigation for influence peddling and/or failing to act with honesty.

Victor Carranza, President of Banco Nacional, the commission recommended his investigation by the Ethics Office to determine if he was responsible for any violation to his duties for supposedly “giving a preferential treatment to a specific client, by organizing a meeting for Juan Carlos Bolaños, with directors of the bank and a high ranked Credit Committee executive”.

Omar Briceño and Juan Carlos Corrales, both of Banco Nacional, for presumably giving preferential treatment to Juan Carlos Bolaños.

Jorge Chavarria: former attorney general of the Republic and Berenice Smith, former acting attorney general of the Republic; both of them are considered to have failed to fulfill their duties.

Celso Gamboa: Supreme Court Judge, under investigation for supposedly failing to fulfill his duties, influence peddling, abuse of authority and hiding evidence in favor of Bolaños.

And finally, on a related case that the commission urges to investigate:

Roy Gonzalez Mora consultant of Coopelesca : The commission suggest that the Public Ministry investigates him for the financial statements he filed to justify the purchase of a hydroelectric plant by Coopelesca and for his relationship with at least one member of the Holcim (cement company) Board of Directors.

Source/The Costa Rica Star

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