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"Negocios & Politica" connects the murders of Mayor Intriago and Presidential candidate Villavicencio to allegations concerning the business activities of candidate Jan Topic.
On Thursday, Negocios & Politica (N&P) published an article about the assassination of the Manta Mayor Agustin Intriago on July 23 and the assassination of Presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio on August 9.
"Many aspects of each case remain to be clarified. However, an ongoing investigative process... allows for the establishment of a connection between the two murdered individuals and a presidential candidate: Jan Topic," asserts the Argentine digital newspaper.
According to data gathered by N&P, the municipality of Manta entered into a contract with Topic's company, Telconet, in March 2017 during the tenure of Mayor Jorge Zambrano, a member of the Social Christian Party (PSC), which currently supports Topic's candidacy.
"The contract granted a 10-year concession for providing traffic management and controlled paid parking services through electronic devices. The contract was riddled with irregularities, one of which was that Topic himself drafted the terms of the contract while his company was competing as a bidder for the project," reported the Argentine newspaper.
Ecuador's government declared a nationwide state of emergency for 60 days after presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, known for his anti-corruption stance, was assassinated at a campaign rally. pic.twitter.com/mqmaYxqYSg
The Manta municipality also had other contracts with Topic's companies related to vehicle inspections, corrective maintenance of electric bicycles, and operation of parking areas.
Upon assuming the mayor's office, Intriago analyzed the contracts made by the previous municipal administration and raised concerns about several issues in the bidding processes.
Among them was the lack of transparency in a contract where one of Topic's companies received 60 percent of the total revenue from vehicle fines. Subsequent legal actions had consequences for the Topic-related businesses in Manta.
As per the information collected by the Argentine newspaper, Mayor Intriago "disrupted" another businesses favorable to Topic.
In 2021, for example, Intriago terminated an US$11 million contract for the construction of a vehicle inspection center. Eighty-five percent of the profits generated in this contract benefited the Topic-linked company Transire, while the city of Manta received only 15 percent.
"These contracts have economic imbalances. In matters of investment, both parties should benefit," Intriago stated, specifying that "the sole beneficiary was Transire."
This week, the political organization endorsing Villavicencio's presidential candidacy designated journalist Christian Zurita as his replacement for the Sunday elections.
The assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio has brought Ecuador’s security situation into the global spotlight
An analyst explains how the anti-corruption campaigner’s murder is a “show of strength” by criminal elements ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/mfDVsmvtnB
In a press conference on Wednesday, Zurita mentioned that Villavicencio intended to expose certain irregular contracts during the August 13 presidential debate, which he could not attend to.
"Christian Zurita criticized Jan Topic for a contract signed between the Municipality of Guayaquil and Telconet," the Ecuadorian newspaper El Universo reported.
"The allegation pertains to a US$30 million contract awarded by the Guayaquil Citizen Security Corporation (CSCG) to the company Telconet -in which Topic was a partner until a few months ago- to equip the city with around 15,000 facial recognition cameras, a system that has merely 0.8 percent effectiveness according to a report from the contract administrator," it added.
"Villavicencio was going to address this in the debate he could not attend," Zurita said, adding that the cameras from Topic's company "do not fulfill their function, they are useless."
Negocios & Política links the murders of Intriago and Villavicencio to the denunciations of alleged acts of corruption that would have taken place when the Social Christians governed the municipalities of Guayaquil and Manta.
“Villavicencio, who denounced the case and was a rival in the presidential campaign, was assassinated just 10 days before publicly revealing the case in a presidential debate watched by millions. Intriago, who disrupted the business and had a deep understanding of the Manta case, was murdered three weeks earlier," the Argentine newspaper asserts.
"Many elements are still to be unraveled in these cases, the most serious assassinations in recent times in Ecuador," it cautioned.