ICE Board Members Who Traveled to Prague Fired

July 23, 2004

PRESIDENT Abel Pacheco onTuesday announced he was firing twomembers of the Costa Rican Electricityand Telecom Institute’s (ICE) board ofdirectors who traveled to the Czech capitalof Prague last October with a topCosta Rican official of Swedish telecomfirm Ericsson.Pacheco said he would release thereport with the findings at a later date andrefused to comment on the investigation’sresults.“It would be difficult to commentsince it’s something that requires a lot ofcare,” Pacheco explained during hisweekly Cabinet meeting. “We do not wantto make a mistake and would like to followall the correct procedures.”The board members, HernandoPantigioso and José Antonio Lobo, andICE’s Sub-Manager of TelecommunicationsAlvaro Retana, traveled to Geneva,Switzerland, to take part the InternationalTelecommunication Union’s WorldConference, Oct. 12-18.However, Oct. 15-18, the ICE representativeswere in Prague, accompaniedby Ricardo Taylor, Ericcson’s top representativein Costa Rica. At the time,Ericsson was involved in and two monthslater won a $130 million bid to supplyICE with 600,000 new cell phone lines.The details of the trip were made publicin February by Libertarian MovementParty legislators. However, it wasn’t untilApril that the Executive Branch beganinvestigating the matter (TT, April 23).Taylor, Retana and the two boardmembers have maintained their innocence.Since April 28, Retana has been onvacation while ICE conducts an internalinvestigation. If found guilty of violatingICE’s rules, Retana will lose his job. Thedaily La Nación on Tuesday reported theinvestigation was in its final phases.Since Retana is an employee of ICE,Pacheco cannot fire him. Pacheco doeshave power to fire the board members,who are appointed by the government.No replacements for the board membershave been announced. Pacheco saidhe is looking at several options.

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