The Ministerio Publico is targeting 16 former legislators from the previous period (2014-2018), as they apparently accepted trips outside of Costa Rica paid by third parties, organizations or companies, investing whether they may or may not have committed a crime.
Among the controversial trips, one appears to be in Denver, Colorado, to learn about the scope of medical cannabis. There is also a visit by several former legislators to Spain, a trip financed by a group of cooperatives.
The Fiscalía Adjunta de Probidad, Transparencia y Anticorrupción (Deputy Prosecutor’s Office for Probity, Transparency and Anti-Corruption) uncovered the information while the Fiscal General (Prosecutor General), Emilia Navas, carried out an investigation against current legislator Jonathan Prendas.
Prendas is accused of the alleged crime of illicit enrichment (enriquecimiento ilícito in Spanish), after a businessman invited him to participate in a tech congress in Barcelona, Spain, as reported last March by Crhoy.com.
The Attorney General’s Office confirmed that they received a document a few weeks ago, which provides information on apparent trips made by legislators from the past period.
The Prosecutor’s Office explained that it cannot publicly reveal the names on the list since they have not been deposed, but did confirm there are 16 people named.
However, CRHoy.com says it has a copy of the official letter AL-DFIN-OFI-0275-2019 by the Financial Department of the Legislative Assembly, which details the trips of ex-legislators, the reasons for the trips and who paid the airfare and the per diem.
This document, delivered last July to the Ministerio Publico, is in response to the request made by the Attorney General to the President of the Congress, Carlos Ricardo Benavides.
The names on the list of trips abroad paid for by others:
- Lorelly Trejos traveled to Mexico in August 2014 and in February 2015.
- Marcela Guerrero (current head of the IFAM), to Panama in September 2014.
- Franklin Corella traveled to Colombia in October 2015.
- Víctor Morales Zapata traveled to Spain and France in 2014.
- Karla Prendas traveled to Spain in March 2015.
- Paulina Ramírez accompanied Prendas on that trip.
- Julio Rojas visited El Salvador in October 2014.
- Epsy Campbell (currently vice-president) participated in the Linowitz Forum throughout Latin America in November 2014.
- Ligia Fallas traveled to Peru in 2015.
- Marvin Atencio was in the United States as an exhibitor of the Drug Policy Alliance conference in November 2015.
- Javier Cambronero was in Colombia in August 2016.
- Francisco Camacho traveled to France and Spain in November 2016.
- Maureen Clarke visited Colombia in April 2017, the trip paid by the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN).
- Gonzalo Ramírez was in Denver for 12 days in October 2015, the trip paid by the CRCR Council on Responsible Canabis Regulation.
- Johnny Leiva accompanied Ramirez.
- Juan Luis Jimenez was also on that trip.
On September 27, the Fiscal General, Emilia Navas, was clear in pointing out that no public employee can receive any economic or in-kind benefit from a third party.