Costa Rica intelligence chief resigns over scandal

November 28, 2008

The highest-ranking intelligence officer in the Arias administration resigned yesterday over a scandal involving bank frauds worth $380,000.

Roberto Solórzano, director of the Department of Intelligence and Security (DIS), stepped down after judicial police began investigating Solórzano´s deputy director for potential involvement in the fraud.

The Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) are looking into whether Roberto Guillén, the deputy director in charge of DIS operations, helped steal the money using personal information from Datum, a database to which he had access through DIS.

“I cannot deny that there was negligence in the handling of the password for Datum,” Solórzano said in a resignation letter to Presidency Minister Rodrigo Arias. “What has happened in the DIS … has deeply mortified me and affected my health.”

Guillén stepped down Nov. 26 after judicial police said he may be among a group of criminals who forged documents and signatures to access 14 victims´ bank accounts and sell their property.

The police were led to Guillén because some of the fraudulent activities occurred shortly after Guillén´s Datum password was used to access information about the victims, said José Maleaño, head of an OIJ fraud unit. The investigation is ongoing and no charges have been filed against Guillén, Maleaño said.

Acknowledging fundamental weaknesses with the DIS, Arias said he would seek help from Chilean and Colombian authorities to draft a bill that would more clearly define the organization´s responsibilities and checks on its power.

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