The Prosecutor's Office is investigating a criminal organization that has been bribing local officials to secure public works construction contracts.
On Monday, the Judicial Investigation Organization (OIJ) detained San Jose Mayor Johny Araya, Cartago Mayor Mario Redondo, San Carlos Mayor Alfredo Cordoba, Alajuela Mayor Humberto Soto, and Osa Mayor Alberto Cole for their alleged involvement in the “Diamond” corruption case.
The Prosecutor's Office is investigating a criminal organization that has been bribing local officials to secure public works construction contracts. The five mayors are suspected to have participated in a corruption scheme that granted illegal benefits to the MECO construction company.
The OIJ deployed 40 raids across the country, over 600 agents, and 32 prosecutors, who also raided offices in the Escazu, Siquirres, and Golfito city halls. Likewise, investigators raided the Public Works and Transportation Ministry (MOPT) and other construction companies.
The Prosecution stated that officers are investigating the alleged advance payment of invoices, the early approval and start of public works, and bribes associated with road maintenance. The program for public road works is mostly financed by a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB).
Costa Rica generates over 98% of its electricity from #renewable sources. They're planning to extend their forests which already cover 50% of the country. That's just the beginning.— Mike Hudema (@MikeHudema) November 12, 2021
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In June, the MECO irregularly won a public tender against a consortium which submitted a cheaper offer. In that month, this company and the National Highway Council were also involved in the Cochinilla case, a corruption scandal that ended with 30 detainees, 14 of whom were public officials.
The investigation showed that MECO bribed authorities with liquor, money, vehicles, and sexual services to secure public contracts. This procedure generated a fiscal deficit of over US$120 million between 2018 and 2020.
The Latin American Studies Circle's 2020 report on corruption puts Costa Rica in the top 3 countries with the lowest perception of corruption in the region. However, this perception is likely to change since the 2021 events have not been taken into account yet.