San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Ruling party leaders accused of corruption

Costa Rica’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal asked prosecutors to investigate 90 leaders of President Laura Chinchilla’s party for fraud against the state during the last election campaign, media reported last Friday.

The daily La Nación said National Liberation Party officials included lawmakers, presidential advisers and senior party leaders.

According to a court investigation revealed by the daily, the group charged the state some $800,000 for rental car contracts that never existed during Chinchilla’s 2010 presidential campaign.

In some cases, funds were used to finance other campaign activities, while in other cases, it was unclear what was purchased  with the money, the report said.

Lawmaker Óscar Alfaro, who led Chinchilla’s campaign in the capital, allegedly took about $26,000 intended for contracts and transferred the funds to a personal bank account.

Among those named in the report were Jorge Bolaños, Costa Rica’s representative at the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, the campaign’s national treasurer, Alex Sibaja, and Chinchilla adviser Mario Álvarez.

Chinchilla, who marks the end of her second year in office next week, has faced a series of recent corruption scandals, but so far she has not been personally involved.

Over the past month, two of her closest collaborators – former Finance Minister Fernando Herrero and his wife and former presidential adviser Flor Isabel Rodríguez – resigned their posts after being accused of underreporting taxes and violating procurement laws.

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