National Production Council Head Investigated for Corruption

May 18, 2007

The president of Costa Rica’s National Production Council (CNP), a government agency that uses money from state liquor sales to support small farmers, has stepped down from his post while he is investigated for corruption allegations.

The Executive Branch’s Ethics Commission launched an investigation after Citizen Action Party (PAC) legislator José Joaquin Salazar wrote President Oscar Arias a letter April 18 requesting that Oreamuno step down from his seat and be investigated for his alleged conflict of interest in having awarded a hefty sponsorship that benefited a former business partner of his.

Oreamuno spent some $70,000 on sponsorship and publicity in the first quarter of 2007, equaling 90% of the publicity funds set aside for the whole year, according to Salazar’s complaint. The expenditures included the sponsorship of an event held by a company run by Enrique Vargas Rodríguez, a former business partner of Oreamuno’s in a fruit company.

The complaint also alleged that money spent on publicity was “excessive” during Oreamuno’s one-year stint as president. Oreamuno in a statement called Salazar’s complaint “an unfounded attack” against him, and said the investigation will prove his innocence.

President Oscar Arias established an Executive Branch Code of Ethics and the independent Ethics Commission in a decree he signed shortly after taking office in May 2006. The members are Dora María Guzmán, who was the first woman justice on the Supreme Court, Leticia Chacón, a former legislator, and Hernán Vega, former president of the Costa Rican Lawyers’ Association.

 

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