Two of the top four presidential candidates have open criminal investigations against them, including allegations of misuse of campaign funds and abuse of authority.
National Liberation Party presidential candidate Johnny Araya is the subject of three open investigations regarding allegations of corruption, abuse of authority and illicit financial gain, while Libertarian Movement Party presidential candidate Otto Guevara faces an investigation into whether he misused public-funded campaign money, according to court documents compiled by the daily La Nación in its candidate guide application, #NoVotoACiegas, or “I don’t blindly vote.”
Despite lip service to fighting corruption following the troubled administration of President Laura Chinchilla, there has been little outcry over the number of open investigations against several leading presidential and legislative candidates.
However, in a final presidential debate on Monday night, both Araya and Guevara distanced themselves from the investigations, with Araya saying he would waive his immunity if elected and if any of the cases moves forward in the Prosecutor’s Office. Guevara cited documents from the Judicial Investigation Police that he said cleared him of wrongdoing.
Araya led the latest poll from Semanario Universidad with a projected 20.4 percent of votes, followed by Broad Front Party candidate José María Villalta with 15.3 percent. In a statistical tie for third place were Guevara and Citizen Action Party candidate Luis Guillermo Solís with 11.2 percent and 9.5 percent, respectively.
La Nación decided to ax a final poll the newspaper planned on publishing on Wednesday, citing an “inconvenience” to undecided voters.
Solís, Villalta, and the Social Christian Unity Party’s Rodolfo Piza have no open investigations against them.
When asked by La Nación for comment on the cases, Araya responded:
“These accusations were filed because of upcoming elections. But, little by little, they’ve been dismissed. In no case has there been a single irregular act on my part.”
The Prosecutor’s Office provided little information about the cases under investigation, which were filed in 2008 and 2012.
Guevara similarly brushed off the investigation against him:
“This has already been investigated. At the beginning of November, the [Judicial Investigation Police] concluded that there was no evidence of any illicit activity in my transactions or those of people who loaned me money. For some reason I don’t know, they haven’t wanted to close this case.”
Guevara also was sanctioned and suspended from his duties as a notary in the 1990s, and had more than $6,000 in unpaid corporate taxes.
The Libertarian candidate reportedly paid back taxes from the corporation Concresur S.A. on Jan. 15.
Piza was reportedly delinquent on roughly $2,300 in taxes.
Solís was behind on $143 in payments to the Costa Rican Social Security System, but paid it after the newspaper asked him for comment.
Villalta’s only apparent run-in with the law was when police arrested him in 2000 during a demonstration against opening the Costa Rican Electricity Institute to foreign competition.
During Monday’s debate on Repretel, Villalta displayed a document from the Prosecutor’s Office he said cleared him of any wrongdoing.
In a four-month investigation led by investigative editor Giannina Segnini and her team of five data journalists, La Nación scoured public databases and compiled information about tax delinquencies, sanctions and any criminal or civil cases under investigation involving 340 candidates running for president, vice presidents and lawmakers.
Information discovered by the report led to the resignation of two Libertarian candidates, Henry Valerín and Marvin Porras, aspiring lawmakers for Guanacaste and San José, respectively. Valerín was charged with the rape and sexual abuse of a minor but the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court, Sala III, annulled part of the sentence. When the case was sent back to court, the victim withdrew her complaint and he went free.
In 2004, authorities found Porras in possession of stolen goods.
Explore the La Nación app here by searching for parties or the candidates’ names.