Costa Rica’s Prosecutor’s Office on July 30 requested the opening of a judicial investigation of alleged embezzlement charges against ex-President Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Echeverría. The charges were filed before a criminal court in San José, according to the daily La Nación.
Rodríguez, 69, was president of Costa Rica from 1998-2002.
The investigation also includes the president of the National Insurance Institute (INS) Christopher Zawadzki Wojtasiak and Álvaro Acuña Prado, a department manager at INS, confirmed Tatiana Vargas, a spokeswoman with the Prosecutor’s Office.
Rodriguez’s lawyers, Christian Arguedas and Eduardo Araya, said the charges are related to an alleged negotiation with insurance company Guy Carpenter-Reinmex in Mexico. The investigation of this case was initiated in 2001.
The publication also notes that Rodríguez in a press release responded to the charges saying they are “a gross persecution that would be resolved in the courts, and not in any other field.”
It also states that the alleged facts under investigation date back to 2001, and that “in 2005, the Prosecutor’s Office requested its dismissal.”
The judicial investigation originated from alleged payments of approximately $2.1 million received by Rodríguez from 1998-2002 and made by an insurance company with offices in various countries including England and Mexico.
According to the prosecutor’s investigation, Rodríguez’s contacts with the insurance company began before he took office in May 1998.
Rodríguez was forced to resign in 2004 from his post as secretary general of the Organization of American States to stand trial on corruption charges. At the trial, judges found that the ex-president received some $800,000 from the French company Alcatel to be granted a public biding for offering cellphone services in Costa Rica.
He was sentenced in 2011 to five years in prison, but the sentence was revoked, with a court citing statute of limitations and errors in the handling of evidence during the investigation.