Prosecutors quiz ex-official shown in embarrassing video

Government investigators questioned former vice-minister Karina Bolaños looking for evidence of corruption, a press release said Tuesday.

In the interview, investigators sought evidence linking government officials to the poor construction of the road that runs along Costa Rica’s northern border.

Ms. Bolaños was a vice-minister in the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud. She was cast into the limelight in August when a video of her was published on YouTube showing her dressed in only underwear addressing a man who is not her husband. She has since been fired from her job, and her husband, legislator Víctor Hugo Víquez Chaverri, has filed for divorce.

Prosecutors from the probity, transparency and anti-corruption department of the Ministerio Publico conducted the interview with Ms. Bolaños, said the release. It was part of an internal investigation of the infamous trocha fronteriza, the road that runs along Río San Juan and Costa Rica’s border with Nicaragua.

Before the road was built, people traveling along Costa Rica’s northern border had to do so by boat on the Río San Juan.
Since the entire river belongs to Nicaragua, this meant that travelers had to deal with Nicaraguan border checkpoints. Also, Costa Rican police could not carry weapons while patrolling the river.

The road was designed to allow Costa Ricans to travel along the Río San Juan without these difficulties. However, the road was poorly constructed and it has consequently fallen into disrepair much quicker than it should have.

Prosecutors from the Ministerio Publico are investigating to see if government officials or businesses siphoned money from the project and used lower quality materials to build the road.

The press release says that the ministry has conducted 50 raids and 40 interviews in this investigation over the past two months. It also adds that prosecutors have asked the court to temporarily halt the finance ministry’s payments to 13 companies involved in the construction while the investigation proceeds.

The press release refers to Ms. Bolaños as a witness. The release makes no mention of her being a suspect.

After she lost her ministry job she was critical of the Laura Chinchilla administration and its management.

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