QCOSTARICA – How much does it cost to avoid a trial in Costa Rica? If your name is Mélida Solís and run one of the more prominent construction companies in the country, a ¢163 million colones fine (shy of US$200,000 dollars at the current exchange rate).
The payment will get rid of the trial in which events that occurred in the Christmas break of 2011 were reported, when the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad (Conavi) – National Highway Council -made her an advance payment of ¢1 billion colones to the construction company H Solís, for repair works in the section from the Juan Santamaría airport to the crossing of the Manolo’s restaurant, which was concluded until 2013.
Payment of the fine was ordered by the Criminal Court of Finance, after rejecting an appeal filed by the Comptroller General of the Republic and the Prosecutor’s Office, who opposed a conciliation between the accused and the Attorney General’s Office.
In this matter, in addition to Mélida Solís, the Public Ministry had also accused several former Conavi officials, who were attributed the alleged crime of irregular payment of administrative contracts.
In a hearing held on August 16, the Office of the Attorney General agreed with the payment of the fine: “The proposal has arrived and taking into consideration that the entire damage is being canceled, in addition to assessing the situations inherent to the cause, it is considered that the proposal is the most favorable for the State and it is decided to accept it”.
However, the Comptroller’s Office and the Prosecutor’s Office appealed.
Almost a month later, the Treasury Criminal Court notified the lawyer for the H. Solís company that the appeals were not founded.
“After this we would be proceeding to comply with the conditions of the agreement,” that is to say, make the payment to avoid the trial, Francisco Campos told Amelia Rueda.
Eighteen months after the ¢1 billion colones transfer was made, the State was able to recover ¢956.6 million that Conavi paid in advance to the construction company for 5,000 tons of cement. Subsequently, the Comptroller’s Office quantified the amount receivable from H Solís as an opportunity cost at ¢88 million, because it had the money for a year and a half without the work being completed and then the Attorney General’s Office estimated the social damage at ¢75 million, for a total amount of ¢163 million.
Considering that it was not a question of theft of money and in order not to go to trial, the company H Solís agreed since 2017 to pay the State the amounts established by the Comptroller’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office and thus close the case.
However, after several hearings, the Comptroller’s Office reported last August that for legal reasons that seek “the protection of the Public Treasury,” it was opposed to the arrangement with H Solís, a thesis that was seconded by the Prosecutor’s Office and for that reason they objected, but the The Court found that the representation of the State rests with the Attorney General’s Office, an entity that was in agreement in the conciliation and whose thesis prevailed.
This Friday at noon the Attorney General’s Office had not yet been notified by the Judiciary, which is why, although their thesis was recognized by the appeal judge, they chose not to refer to the vote.
Initially, in this case, Mélida Solís and the former financial manager of Conavi, Carlos Solís Murillo, appeared as defendants, who since last July 14 coincided in complaints with the businesswoman, since he appears as a defendant in the Cochinilla bribery and payoff case, which is totally unrelated to the 2011 case.
Mélida Solís is currently is under preventive measures related to her part in the Cochinilla case, which also includes Carlos Cerdas, owner of the MECO construction company and more than 30 others, including a score of government officials.