San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Congress subpoenas former President Oscar Arias

The special commission created last week in the Legislative Assembly to investigate Rodrigo Arias decided Wednesday to bring former president Oscar Arias into questioning. The congressional panel subpoenaed Arias about the whereabouts of public funds that were used to hire several services during his government (2006-2010).

Arias will face the examination along with his brother Rodrigo, ex-presidency minister, and several other political personalities such as current Public Security Minister Jose María Tijerino, Finance Minister Fernando Herrero, and the Comptroller General Rocío Aguilar.

Aside from government officials, the subpoena requests the presence of Alfredo Ortuño, former Costa Rica representative for the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE), and the bank’s general manager Hazel Cepeda.

During the Arias presidency, the BCIE hired several experts to work directly with the Presidency Ministry. Those hired were directly recommended by Rodrigo Arias. Opposition leaders criticized the move claiming Arias bypassed regular controls in the public sector designed to prevent corruption.

As a result, Rodrigo Arias was accused of mismanaging public funds by several prosecutors.

A recent report by the daily La Nación showed that Arias allegedly called Attorney General Jorge Chavarría on Oct. 8. A few hours later, an email was sent to prosecutor Lilliam Gomez requesting the investigation against Arias be suspended.

This alleged influence peddling also is part of the investigation the Arias brothers will undergo in the next weeks.

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