San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Former presidential candidate accused of accepting ‘ghost’ salary

Board members from the Costa Rican Social Security System, or Caja, this week accused former lawmaker and ex-presidential candidate Walter Muñoz of allegedly receiving ₡23 million ($46,000) in consulting fees from the public health agency between 2002-2004 without performing any work.

Caja officials called for a legal investigation of the case and are seeking to recover the funds, plus ₡15 million ($30,000) in interest. Officials said they found evidence the payments were made, but there is apparently no record of duties or functions carried out by Muñoz.

Caja President Ileana Balmaceda said officials also filed a complained to the Prosecutor’s Office claiming Muñoz failed to pay mandated insurance premiums to the Caja.

Muñoz is a former presidential candidate for the now-defunct National Integration Party, having sought the presidency in 1998, 2002 and 2006. He now heads the National Association of the Insured, a group that is pushing for a referendum on how Caja board members are appointed.

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