QCOSTARICA – The Fiscalía General de la República (FGR) – Costa Rican Prosecutor’s Office – opened an investigation on Tuesday against President, Rodrigo Chaves Robles, and several members of the Government for “tráfico de influencias” (influence peddling), after a criminal complaint by a businessman against the president.
The Ministerio Publica (Public Ministry) indicated through a brief statement that the case was opened “as a result of the complaint filed by Leonel Baruch Goldberg, president of the Banco BCT (a Costa Rica private bank) and shareholder and member of the board of directors of CRhoy.com, an online news media openly critical of Chaves.
In addition to the president, the Fiscalia is also investigating the Minister of Communication, Jorge Rodríguez Vives; Gabriel Aguilar Vargas, advisor to the president; the executive president of the National Institute for Women (Inamu), Adilia Caravaca Zúñiga; and Baruch’s ex-wife Yafit Ohana Beladel.
Baruch denounced Chaves on July 25 (case 23-000056-0033-PE) for the alleged intervention of the president and the rest of the officials in the divorce proceedings between him and Ohana and the dispute over the custody of their children.
The businessman denounces that his ex-wife received favorable treatment from the Government in her divorce after contributing to the creation of a video for social networks that was used by the Minister of Finance, Nogui Acosta, to denounce an alleged tax evasion case.
The dispute between Baruch and Chaves came to light through a statement sent by the businessman’s lawyer, Cristian Arguedas, in which he confirmed that “there is no other alternative than the legal actions taken today against the president of the republic and other participants in such actions.”
The Costa Rican Attorney General, Carlo Díaz Sánchez, will be conducting the investigation as some of the defendants hold high positions of power.
On Wednesday, in Cartago, after participating in the solemn mass in honor of Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles, patron saint of Costa Rica, the president responded to reporters, describing as absurd the accusation against him.
After participating in the solemn mass in honor of Our Lady of the Angels, patron saint of Costa Rica, at her Sanctuary in the province of Cartago, the president responded to reporters about this event. This is not the time to talk about it, it is absurd, he evaded journalists.
Influence peddling in Costa Rica
Influence peddling is punishable in Costa Rica with a prison term of two to five years. The case is “in a private stage”, reported by the Public Ministry, so no further information can be provided in this regard.
Article 52 of the Law against Corruption and Illicit Enrichment in the Public Function, which establishes:
“Anyone who, directly or through an intermediary, influences a public servant, taking advantage of his position or any other situation derived from his personal or hierarchical situation with this or another public servant, will be punished with a prison sentence of two to five years. whether real or simulated, so that he makes, delays or omits an appointment, award, concession, contract, act or resolution inherent to his functions, in such a way that it generates, directly or indirectly, an undue economic benefit or advantage, for himself or for another.
This is the second investigation opened against Chaves by the Fiscalia in less than a month. On July 17, the Public Ministry opened a case for the alleged commission of “abuse of power.”