QCOSTARICA – While headlines in the past few weeks have been focused on the “Caso Cochinilla”, the corruption scandal inside the Conavi and some of Costa Rica’s largest road works construction companies, the Fiscalia has continued its long and arduous investigation in the “Cemento Chino” or “Cementazo” case.
On Thursday, the Fiscalia (Prosecutor’s Office) charged and requested the opening of a trial against businessman Juan Carlos Bolaños Rojas; former legislator, Víctor Morales Zapata; former Vice Minister of Finance, Fernando Rodríguez Garro, and the former Director General of Customs, Benito Coghi Morales, for the removal of 20,000 tons of cement from China.
In a press release, the Fiscalia detailed that after the investigation carried out determined that the crimes of aggravated influence peddling had been committed.
“There was the necessary evidence to accuse the alleged influence exerted by the former vice minister and the former legislator.
Based on the investigation, two alleged crimes of aggravated influence peddling were attributed to Morales Zapata, to Rodríguez and Coghi two apparent illicit acts of influence over public finances, while Bolaños faces the indictment for four alleged illegal acts, two of trafficking in aggravated influences and two of influence on public finances.
No date for the start of the trial was given.
The Cementazo political corruption scandal in Costa Rica was revealed in mid-2017 where the loan of US$31.5 million by the Banco de Costa Rica (BCR, a state bank) was given to Bolaños and his company Sinocem Costa Rica in irregular conditions.
The investigations uncovered an alleged case of influence peddling and questioning the businessman’s relationship with members of the three Supreme Powers, including legislators, the Supreme Court of Justice and Casa Presidencial, as well as members of different political parties such as Acción Ciudadana, National Liberation, Libertarian Movement and Christian Social Unity.
Bolaños has defended himself stating that the intention from the beginning was to break the duopoly of cement by the companies Holcim and Cemex, importing cement from China at a better price and higher quality.