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Environment Ministry Under Investigation

February 6, 2009

Legislators have opened an investigation into the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Ministry (MINAET), after the ministry’s internal auditor alleged a lack of financial oversight.

“The ministry manages more than ¢90 million ($163,600), subdivided into dollars, colones and also Euros, and this money does not go into the government coffers, but rather is managed apart,” said auditor Rodrigo Bonilla, according to the transcripts of testimony he gave to legislators in December.

Bonilla said that much of the money comes from a myriad of agreements with foundations and non-governmental organizations that also lack oversight.

This week, Miguel Alberto Zamora, a lawyer from the Environmental Tribunal, also testified that a portion of funds that come from settlements in that court are transferred to the Fundación de Parques Nacionales, a non-governmental organization that has provided funding for cashstrapped national parks, without additional oversight.

Zamora said he believed the funds are state money and must be transferred into government coffers.

Yamileth Mata, a judge with the tribunal, said that although “the comptroller general has not clarified if the money is public … we have no problem if it is, and we will assign the funds to the public coffers”.

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