Monday 2 October 2023

Construction companies that paid alleged bribes would be disqualified for ten years

The administrative sanction would also cover mergers or consortia. H Solís, Meco, Constructora Herrera and Also Frutales are being investigated.

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QCOSTARICA – If it is proven in a final judgment that they did pay bribes to Conavi officials, several companies could be disqualified from building road infrastructure for a period ranging from three to ten years.

PLN legislator Karine Niño promoted the reform of the administrative contracting law that would establish disqualification for up to ten years.

These are the companies H Solís, Meco, Constructora Herrera and Also Frutales, among others.

These construction companies are some of the more important road builders in the country and have been vital in the development of infrastructure in recent years, as they build or have completed projects such as the Circunvalacion Norte, the new bridge over the Virilla River at the height of Saprissa and the overpasses in the rotondas the Garantías Sociales, Guadalupe and La Bandera.

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They are also key players in the road expansions of Ruta1 (Interamericana Norte) Barrance and Limonal section in Guanacaste, the Bernardo Soto and General Cañas from La Sabana to San Ramon, among others.

The sanction for companies would imply the disqualification to build any road infrastructure in the country, for a period ranging from three years to ten years, according to a reform to the administrative contracting law approved in 2019 and which was promoted by PLN legislator Karine Niño.

The regulations consider as fraud, the constitution of a new company in order to evade the effects of the sanction, so that a company will not be able to circumvent the controls, since mergers and consortia would not be allowed for these companies.

The administrative sanction would be applied regardless of the criminal and civil sanctions that would be established for the payment of alleged bribes in public works.

“It will be considered as a serious fault of the contractor, when one of his actions or omissions endangers the life or safety of people, when the projects increase in cost because of his fault, or when there is a firm conviction against from the contractor,” said Niño.

In this sense, the companies in question would be investigated for the increase in the cost of the works and for the alleged payment of bribes.

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The sanction would not apply to the construction of buildings or sewers, for example, since it would only be for road infrastructure.

Up to 33 people (as of Wednesday) face criminal charges in connection to the briding of some 20 public officials of the Conavi, bribes that included payments in cash, property, trips, cars and even sexual favors.

In principle, the officials would have illegally granted public works contracts with important private sector development companies for a value of ¢78 billion colones.

For this reason, the OIJ carried out 57 raids on the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MOPT), focusing on its subsidiary, the Conavi and including Casa Presidencial on Monday, June 14, 2021.

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Embezzlement, bribery, and influence peddling are some of the crimes that are being investigated by the Judicial Police (OIJ) and the Prosecutor’s Office (Ministerio Publico).

It was also learned on Wednesday, that Costa Rica’s Attorney General, Emilia Navas, has recused herself from the “Caso Cochinilla”, the code name for the police operation, as she is married to one of the lawyers defending one or more of the accused.

This is the second time Navas is refusing herself and for the same reason, the first was in the Aldesa case.

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