New Comptroller Will Testify

July 9, 2004

A legislative commission investigatingnew Comptroller General Álex Solís hasbeen given another month to determinewhether members think the head inspectorof government contracts should keep his job.The commission will investigate 13charges against Solís – 11 cases of suspectedfalsification of signatures on legal documentsand a possible irregularity in obtaininga land title for a parcel of land originallyfrom the Agricultural Development Institute(IDA), which provides agrarian welfare.Commission members will also analyzeSolís’s alleged involvement in financingthe smuggling of Costa Ricans into theUnited States.SOLÍS was informed of the officialaccusations Wednesday and has five workdaysto respond to the commission.At a press conference last week – hisonly appearance before the press since thelegislative commission was formed – hetold reporters, “I recognize that in my life Ihave made mistakes and sinned. But I wantto tell you that I have never benefited froma wrongly earned colón, nor have I abusedany public post.”At the July 1 conference, he rejected arequest by 40 deputies of the LegislativeAssembly to resign (TT, July 2).He said his past was widely known bydeputies, some members of the press andex-President Oscar Arias when he wasnamed to the eight-year position by theLegislative Assembly June 7.He asked why, if they knew before,there is now so much fury and discord (TTDaily Page, July 5).AS comptroller general, Solís is incharge of reviewing all the government’sfinances and all contracts and public bids,particularly in search of irregularities orcorruption.The commission originally was given 20days to investigate Solís, which would havebeen up today. But after Solís rejected lastweek’s request by 40 deputies to resign, thecommission was given more time and theauthority to recommend his removal.Former Comptroller General ElíasSoley (1987-1992) said the Assembly’smotion last week asking Solís to resign is a“dangerous legislative practice.” Congressshould listen to Solís’s defense before acting,he told the daily La Nación.Solís, along with brother Ottón Solís,former presidential candidate and head ofthe Citizen Action Party (PAC), will testifybefore the commission.An investigation into Alex Solís’s pastfor allegedly signing his brother’s signaturerevealed accusations that from 1998 to 2001he lent money to Southern Zone residents,which reportedly was used to pay costlycoyotes and passage into the United States.People often mortgaged their homes toborrow the money and some SouthernZone residents told daily newspapers theirhomes were repossessed when they wereunable to pay the debts (TT, July 2).SOLÍS said July 1 that while as alawyer he did participate in mortgageloans, he cannot control what people dowith the money once they receive it. Hedenied participation in an organization oftransporting people to other countries.The legislative commission will notmeet while Solís reviews the accusations,although it will meet during the assembly’srecess, which ends July 19.Solís, or a representative, will beallowed to be present at the hearings, althoughthey cannot question witnesses. Onlydeputies are allowed to ask questions in suchcommissions, according to LegislativeAssembly spokeswoman Shirley Gutiérrez.PAC representatives last week soughtthe testimony of Arias before the commission,saying he originally supported Solísas Comptroller General, and later said heshould resign.However, the commission decidedArias will not have to testify, because he“has nothing to do with it and they don’twant to make a political show of everything,”Gutiérrez said.

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