Ex-President Rafael Angel Calderón Jr. (1990-1994) and seven others will go to trial on corruption charges, a judge decided Oct. 5.
They will be tried for allegedly taking as much as $9.2 million in connection with a $32 million loan for purchasing medical equipment for Costa Rica’s national public health-care system.
The case broke in 2004, when the daily La Nación discovered that former Social Security System (Caja) president Eliseo Vargas was living in a luxurious residence owned by the pharmacy Fischel, a Costa Rican representative of the Finnish medical equipment firm Instrumentarium Medko Medical.Vargas, as a legislator years before, had pushed the speedy approval of a $32 million loan from the Finnish government to purchase medical equipment from Instrumentarium Medko Medical for the Caja.
Calderón received some $520,000, which he has said was for legal consulting services he provided to Walter Reiche, a former Fischel executive who had paid for Vargas’ house.
Calderón was arrested in late 2004 and held in a series of preventive detention terms, both at his home and in a state penitentiary, for approximately one year.
Since his release on bail, he has expressed interest in running for President again in 2010 with the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC), the party that he helped found and which brought him to the presidency in 1990 (TT, March 9).
Another ex-President from the same party, Miguel Angel Rodríguez (1998- 2002), was charged with corruption earlier this year for his alleged involvement in another scandal involving a $149 million contract awarded to French telecom firm Alcatel (TT, Aug. 3). He was also arrested in late 2004.