Health Ministry Official Accused of Corruption

March 9, 2007

Officials arrested a Public Health Ministry official working in the Southern Zone canton of Osa in late February for allegedly demanding bribes from at least one area hotel owner.

According to the Osa Prosecutor’s Office, the official, identified as Mariano Solano, has been ordered to two months of preventive detention and, if convicted of soliciting bribes, could face 2-6 years in prison.

Marlene Jiménez, owner of the Drake Bay Wilderness Resort, reported Solano to the prosecutor’s office, alleging he demanded $3,000 to hand over a health permit for her hotel’s bar.

Jiménez, who spoke to The Tico Times by phone this week, said the official was “very arrogant and asked for a series of documents that had nothing to do with his department.”

“He said that from now on, he is the only representative that is going to be visiting, and that he had closed other hotels, and he had no problem with closing hotels, that it was easy.”

Solano went so far as to give her his bank account number for the money to be deposited, Jiménez alleged.

Jiménez contacted the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) and the prosecutor’s office, then met in person with the inspector, and paid him with marked bills.

Once the money had been exchanged, officials arrested Solano.

“Costa Rica is a very beautiful country, and the people who work here are honest.

It’s not right that Costa Rica gets to be known to foreigners through such shameless people,” Jiménez said.

The prosecutor’s office is asking other business owners who may have dealt with this official to contact it at 788-8187.

 

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