Officials from the National Notary Administration on Wednesday morning searched lawmaker Justo Orozco’s private office in Hatillo, south of the capital, as part of an ongoing investigation of alleged irregularities with Orozco’s practice as a public notary.
A series of reports aired this week by local Telenoticias Channel 7 revealed that Orozco, a lawmaker from the Costa Rican Renovation Party, performed a total of 31 marriages and two divorces, among other legal procedures, – all taking place in his Legislative Assembly office when he was supposed to be on the clock for taxpayers.
Costa Rican legislation does not prohibit lawmakers from performing work related to their private practice, as long as it is not conducted during legislative sessions or with public resources like government facilities or office equipment. Telenoticias reports included evidence that Orozco conducted private business during Legislative Assembly hours at his office in the Assembly.
In an on-camera response, Orozco acknowleged conducting the business, but he claimed he didn’t charge fees because “they were part of social aid I offered to poor people and as favors to friends.”
But not charging for his services would have violated the country’s Notarial Code, which is clear in stating that notaries are obliged to use the Costa Rica’s Lawyers Association fee table for all services provided.
“Costa Rica’s Notarial Code establishes the obligation of all notaries to charge for their services and it does not provide any exception for performing free services,” José Álvarez, from the National Notary Administration, told The Tico Times.
Undercharging or not charging at all for notarial services could mean a suspension of a notary license for up to one month, according to article 143 of the Notarial Code.
The results of the investigation will be disclosed this week.