The Chief Prosecutor’s Office this week informed ex-President Rafael Angel Calderón Jr. that it has broadened the scope of the investigation against him related to alleged corruption involving the Social Security System (Caja), according to the Judicial Branch.
Calderón now faces charges of illicit enrichment, bribery, conspiracy and embezzlement.
He was already under investigation for the first two charges, the daily La Nación reported, but the addition of conspiracy and embezzlement to the list expands the investigation, giving prosecutors twice as long under the law to present formal accusations and increasing the possible jail time from six to 12 years.
The ex-President (1990-1994) was at the Prosecutor’s Office for more than two hours Wednesday, along with six others under investigation in connection to the so-called Caja-Fischel case, which involves the alleged embezzlement of a multimillion-dollar “commission” on a $39.5-million medical equipment contract between the Caja and Finnish company Medko Medical, represented in Costa Rica by Corporación Fischel.
After the questioning, Calderón – who spent approximately one year in preventive detention, both at his home in the eastern San José suburb of Curridabat and the penitentiary La Reforma, and is now free but prohibited from leaving the country – complained to the press that no evidence against him was presented.
“I asked for the evidence they had and they didn’t give it to me, and I want the country to know that,” Calderón said.
Those under investigation can now present evidence in their defense before authorities file formal charges.
Calderón was linked to the alleged scandal in September 2004 when the local press claimed he embezzled commissions from the Caja loan for the purchase of medical equipment (Oct. 22, 2004).
Calderón recognized from the beginning that he received the money, but assured that it was an “incorrect payment” for his services as an advisor to the company.