San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Ethics investigation

President Solís asks Prosecutor's Office to review ethics report on former transport minister

President Luis Guillermo Solís’ campaign pledge to root out corruption in government might be starting to take shape this week. During a press conference Tuesday, the president said his office had sent a copy of the Comptroller General’s report investigating alleged ethics violations by former Public Works and Transport Minister Pedro Castro to the Chief Prosecutor to determine if there are grounds for a criminal investigation.

The Comptroller’s report determined that Castro’s actions “generated doubt about his rectitude, impartiality, objectivity and transparency” when he did not alert members of the Administrative Council of the National Roadway Council about his former relationship with Compañía Asesora de Construcción (CACISA) and did not abstain from discussions or votes to grant CACISA contracts as part of the troubled 1856 Juan Rafael Mora Porras border roadway, also known as “La trocha.”

Castro served in former President Laura Chinchilla’s administration (2010-2014) from October 2012 until 2014.

Now that Castro is no longer a minister, he does not have impunity from prosecution. Tatiana Vargas, spokeswoman for the Prosecutor’s Office, told The Tico Times in an email that the documents would be sent Wednesday morning to the Deputy Prosecutor for Probity, Transparency and Anti-Corruption for review. No investigation has been announced against Castro.

The report dismissed another complaint filed against the former MOPT chief that he used his office to grant another highway concession to Brazilian contractor OAS, for whom he also worked as a consultant. OAS’ highway concession was ultimately cancelled following public outcry about the lack of transparency in the contracts and high tolls proposed. Chinchilla’s administration settled the cancelled concession with OAS, a Brazilian contractor, for $35 million in March.

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Ken Morris

Well, let’s see how this plays out.

I tend to agree with Ben that the guy probably won’t ever be punished, but I tend to disagree that this is a serious problem. At issue is ending the culture of corruption that allows many public officials to feel entitled to steal since “everyone else is doing it.” Even if the guy has five houses in as many countries and hidden bank acounts in all of them, it’s still a hassle and embarrassment for him to have to deal with the allegations. Also, just going after these guys sends a strong signal to others, often lower down the chain, that getting away with public theft isn’t a slam dunk. I think there is value in going after these guys even if they ultimately avoid punishment. At the same time, the problem with the Chinchilla adminstration was not I think that she was personally corrupt but that she allowed an atmosophere to develop in which others saw public theft as easy and normal. Changing this atmosphere is an important step, even if some will continue to get away with misdeeds.

I also agree with Don about removing impunity, although have reservations about how effective it would be. In the US, hardly the gold standard, impunity is often handled by presidential pardons, and as Ben points out these guys often move abroad with their ill-gotten gains anyway. Even so, eliminating impunity would send a strong message and might sometimes even be effective, so I agree.

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This guy will not spend one day in jail. The facts are Costa Rica goverments ex Minister in the past are so good at stealing and leaving with the money. I know of three ex minister that have 5 house in many countries like Sweden,Panama,Argentina,South Africa and so on. Many of the EX Costa Rica staff have money well hidden in there kids names and family business. I guess nothing will ever change just screw the citizens and steal what little bit of money is left in our saving. This piece of shit Mopt ex minister is part of the problem.

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Don Blake

The next thing he needs to do, is to get a new law passed, that removes impunity to prosecution for ministers!… is because of this, that the government has such deep rooted, and widespread corruption in it’s ranks in the first place! Ministers are the very people who should be prosecuted more than anyone else, because they are in positions whereby they can influence decisions involving corruption and bribery, for their own personal gain and benefit, and then get away with it, because they can’t be prosecuted!!…….dooooooooh!!!…It’s totally ludicrous, and in fact borders on being completely insane!!!….what a horrible, shameful mess, created by greedy, backward, and very sad individuals, in positions of trust……absolutely disgusting!

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