Costa Rica Coffee Guide

Unity Treasurer Declared Innocent

February 17, 2006

Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) treasurer Fernán Guardia was found not guilty Wednesday of falsifying documents in a campaign finance scandal with roots in the 2002 election of President Abel Pacheco.

San José judge Elizabeth Tossi determined that Guardia did not falsify documents he gave the Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE) that included lists of donors who contributed to Pacheco’s campaign.

According to prosecutors, during the 2002 election campaign, Unity used a “parallel structure” to accept large donations and donations from foreigners, in violation of the electoral code. This parallel structure included the use of a complicated web of Panamanian and Costa Rican banks.

Prosecutors charged that Guardia was aware of this structure and gave fake donor lists to the TSE to cover up the sources of questionable funds.

However, the judge in the case said Guardia did not falsify the documents because the material he was responsible for – the reports attached to the lists – were real, including his signature. She said he couldn’t be held responsible for the lists.

Furthermore, his knowledge of the parallel structure and additional bank accounts was not proven, she said.

Carlos Meléndez, the prosecutor in the case, said he disagreed with the ruling and said no one else related to the scandal, which has allegedly involved many Unity leaders, can be brought to trial.

“The only person who had responsibilities is Fernán Guardia, as treasurer. There is no penal type that can be applied to others,” Meléndez said. The possibility remains of TSE sanctions.

 

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