Sunday 3 December 2023

Suspended Banco Nacional Employees Filed a ‘Habeas Corpus’

Three of the seven State bank employees alleged to have taken part in the robbery of ¢3.3 billion colones and suspended with pay allege their freedom of movement is restricted by the bank's action

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2 December 2023 - At The Banks - Source: BCCR

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QCOSTARICA — Three of the seven employees suspected of stealing more than ¢3 billion colones from the Banco Nacional have filed an appeal with the Constitutional Court of their freedom of movement.

The three employees, under suspicion in the case of the theft of ¢3.3 billion colones in cash from the bank’s vault and suspended with pay, each filed on Monday a writ of habeas corpus against the State Bank.

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“The appellants allege that the precautionary measures issued by the Banco Nacional de Costa Rica restrict their freedom of movement by prohibiting them from freely leaving their home at any time and at any time during the suspension period (initial period of three months), the distance the want,” indicated the Constitutional Court.

Furthermore, the appellants point out that these actions violate articles 22 and 56 of the country’s Constitution:

Article 22. Every Costa Rican can move and stay anywhere in the Republic or outside it, as long as he is free of responsibility, and return when it suits him. No requirements may be required of Costa Ricans that prevent their entry into the country.

Article 56. Work is an individual’s right and an obligation to society. The State must ensure that everyone has an honest and useful occupation, duly remunerated, and prevent the establishment of conditions that in any way undermine the freedom or dignity of man or degrade his work to the status of simple merchandise. The State guarantees the right to free choice of work.

The Court confirmed the files being processed under files 23-027107-0007-CO, 23-027108-0007-CO, and 23-027109-0007-CO.

In this case, the Banco Nacional suspended the person in charge of the custody area, two custody managers, two supervisors, a technician, and an area head. Seven people in total.

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The Habeas Corpus remedy is to which a person can resort in the event that their personal freedom, physical integrity, freedom of transit, free permanence or entry into the national territory are being disturbed or threatened.

This situation raises an interesting debate about the interpretation of the restriction of freedom of movement in the context of labor precautionary measures and the legal implications that this could have.

Now, it is the duty of the court to analyze the respective appeals and make a decision in this regard.

The bank said it will be respectful of what the Constitutional Court decides.

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If you will recall, two weeks ago, on October 24,  the State Bank made it public that they were short ¢3.3 billion colones in cash, most likely a robbery, committed months earlier, around August is their best guess.

Read more: Banco Nacional confirms missing ¢3.3 billion in cash!

At the beginning of October, an internal bank investigation confirmed that the cash was missing and it suspended five people, three more would be suspended in the weeks to come.

On October 24, the bank filed a criminal complaint with the Judiciary which is now investigating the case.

Last week, the Government of Rodrigo Chaves ordered a preliminary investigation against all members of the Board of Directors of the State bank. According to the Government, “the purpose of the decision is to determine the responsibilities of each of them (board members) (…)”.


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