Prosecutors to probe national refinery contract

July 12, 2012

From the print edition

In an ongoing dispute between President Laura Chinchilla and members of the Legislative Assembly over letters of certification for a consulting company linked to former members of the president’s inside circle, the Chief Prosecutor’s Office quietly entered the picture late last week. 

Last Friday, Chief Prosecutor Jorge Chavarría launched an investigation into a case that has become known as “recommendation-gate,” because of letters of recommendation written by Second Vice President Luis Liberman and Education Minister Leonardo Garnier in favor of former Finance Minister Fernando Herrero and his wife, Flor Isabel Rodríguez, for a lucrative government concession. 

Chavarría said his office would go beyond a narrow investigation of Liberman’s and Garnier’s letters to the broader issue of the legality of a tender with the National Oil Refinery (RECOPE), won by a company owned by Herrero and Rodríguez. 

Last week, minority-party lawmakers called on the president to fire Liberman and Garnier. They blocked discussion of legislation backed by the ruling party as a pressure tactic, before convening a two-week vacation that began July 6.

Chavarría said his office’s investigation of the matter would take two months. 

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