EBI Manager Had Payment List, Witness Says

September 16, 2005

A former commission agent of the waste-management firm Berthier EBI has testified that the general manager of the company, Juan Carlos Obando, gave him a document allegedly disclosing the transfer of payments totaling $112,800 from EBI to the mayor of San José and other municipal advisors and council members, according to Parliamentary Patriotic Bloc legislator Humberto Arce.Eduardo Uriarte told the Prosecutor’s Office Aug. 23 that Obando personally gave him the list of payments allegedly made to San José Mayor Johnny Araya and eight others, six of whom were members of the city council that voted to approve a contract to EBI to open and manage the capital’s only landfill in La Carpio, in western San José (TT, July 22).This information was made public last week during Obando’s testimony before a legislative commission, according to a press release from the Legislative Assembly. With an alleged copy of Uriarte’s statement in hand, legislator Arce asked Obando about the former employee’s testimony.The EBI general manager emphatically denied it.“I have never made payments to any public or municipal functionaries,” Obando told the commission, saying Uriarte’s statement was “totally false.”“For me it is a surprise that don Eduardo is not here. I understood that he had confirmed his attendance,” he said.However, Uriarte has not testified before the commission, citing a writ of habeas corpus under consideration by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV), the daily La Nación reported.Lawyer Juan Miguel Vásquez – who allegedly received payments from EBI destined for Araya – will not testify before the commission either, because of a request for an injunction filed with the Sala IV. Vásquez, who denies the allegations, says the legislative commission has no jurisdiction to investigate a specific case of corruption.Araya has testified before the commission that he did not receive payments from EBI. He says the accusations are politically motivated (TT, Aug. 5).Obando told The Tico Times last month his company is going to sue La Nación and the three reporters who filed the original story detailing the alleged payments.

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