COSTA RICA NEWS – It’s been a difficult two weeks for President Luis Guillermo Solís. As he neared his first 100 days in office, the President and his party, the Partido Accion Cuidana (PAC), has been hit with a couple of major scandals, the worst perhaps the case of lawyer Jorge Sibaja.
On Tuesday, police raided the home of PAC attorney Jorge Sibaja Rodríguez, for three counts of alleged fraud against the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS). The Fiscalía (prosecutor) has charged Sibaja for fraud, forgery and falsification of documents.
The lawyer was taken out of his house in handcuffs following a raid on his home in Curribadat, east side of San José. Authorities said they confiscated, as part of the evidence gathering, blank paper with the Poder Judicial (Judiciary) letterhead and seal of the Juzgado de Cobro (Collections Court), among other “important” evidence.
Sibaja was a prominent member of the PAC electoral tribunal.
Recently, the lawyer made the news headlines for having received ¢227 million colones for authentication of election documents that turned out could have been provided free of charge by the Tribunal Supreme de Elecciones (TSE) or elections tribunal.
The news of the unnecessary charge was discovered when the PAC applied to the TSE for taxpayer funds reimbursing the party for elections expenses, a common practice by all political parties who obtain the minimum voter support in presidential elections.
Sibaja, as well as being as being an official of the legal department, represents the Desamparados district in the PAC national assembly and since 2002 has provides, as external counsel, legal services to the CCSS, his role to bring delinquent (non paying) employers to trial.
This was a black eye for a party that grew on clean ethical practices instilled by its founder and former presidential candidate, Ottón Solís (no relation to President Solís).
The arrest Wednesday is a direct hit against a party that just last week forced the President to fire his strategy advisor, Ivan Barrantes, for possible conflict of interest at Casa Presidencial.
Wednesday afternoon, the Juzgado Penal de Hacienda en Goicoechea ordered Sijaba released on the basis of signing in (to the Court) every week for the next six months and not to leave the country. The Court denied the prosecutor’s request for thee months preventive detention.
Source: La Nacion
President Solis, having just battled the Barrantes scandal on Monday, quickly distanced himself from Sibaja. “I didn’t contract him … he was a party official,” said Solís to the media. The President added that he could not answer anything about Sibaja, that all questions would have to be referred to PAC party officials.