Cooperative corruption case continues

The six members of the Instituto Nacional de Formento Cooperativo arrested Tuesday had their Wednesday court session delayed for unclear reasons.

The Poder Judicial issued a statement that said the Fiscalía de Anticorrupción suspended the Wednesday afternoon hearing and moved it to today. A spokesman for the Poder Judicial did not say the hour in which the hearing was to be held.

These six persons are charged with embezzlement, influence against public finances, illicit enrichment and bribery, according to Poder Judicial. They are facing preventive detention before the trials begin. All six held high positions within the institution known as Infocoop, which judicial agents said was in charge of promoting and developing cooperatives at the national level.

One person arrested was the executive secretary of the Consejo Nacional de Cooperativas. Another was the board president for the institute and as leader of the nation’s coffee cooperative and yet another was even the administrator of a periodical called La Voz Cooperativa.

Investigators said they believe that money for grants was given away to contacts close to the suspected leader of this group. This was allegedly done through manipulating appointments in Infocoop to grant large amounts of money to those contacts. In addition, minutes during meetings of the cooperative were allegedly falsified and elections of board members were allegedly manipulated as well, according to Poder Judicial.

The losses for Infocoop are believed to be in the range of at least 9 billion colons or around $16.1 million, based on estimates from the judiciary.

Some of the evidence seized in Wednesday’s raids included: portfolio reports, audits, financial statements, credit analyses, appraisals and Board of Directors minutes. Over 160 agents from the Judicial Investigating Organization participated in the raids that occurred throughout the Central Valley and San José. The Poder Judicial said that 17 people have now been charged so far, but the prosecution is requesting the aforementioned six to receive preventive detention.

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