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Costa Rican Director of Intelligence Resigns Amid Scandal

Jun 12

Solorzano Resigned After His Sub-Director Was Linked to a Fraud Scandal.

The Costa Rican Director of Intelligence and Security (DIS), Roberto Solorzano, resigned from his position yesterday after allegations of bank fraud involving his sub-director. He handed in his resignation yesterday after meeting with the Minister of the Presidency, Rodrigo Arias. They both came to the conclusion that it would be prudent for Solorzano to step down from his position. In his place the Government named the Vice-Minister of the Presidency and Security, Jose Torres. Solorzano had been heading the DIS since May 2006.

These allegations came about after a Nov. 19 raid on the offices of the Head of Operations and Sub-Director of the DIS, Robert Guillen, by the Fraud Prosecutor and Juridical Police. It was seen that Guillen had been part of a mafia group since 2007 that had been falsifying checks and removing funds from company accounts. It is said that the amount stolen was in excess of $400,000. Nine other people were arrested in the raid.

Guillen and five other suspects were detained for 24 hours and freed by the San Jose DA on the condition that they present themselves every month to prove they have not fled the country and that they do not approach the victims of the fraud. Two men remained under arrest.

Essentially what had happened was that the Sub-Director had used his position to gather information from the DATUM (Costa Rican Data Storage of Personal records such as residency, telephones, vehicles, photographs, etc.) and then would use this information to enter their bank accounts and obtain official checks. Then the mafia would falsify the signatures to cash the checks and withdraw money.

This is a huge blow to one of Costa Rica’s most prestigious departments and it will take some time for them to recover from this scandal. As for the Director of the DIS, though he claims his guilt falls only in the mismanagement of the DATUM password, he has accepted the plan to resign and said that he is deeply mortified.

Solozano, a friend of President Oscar Arias and previously a Dairy Technician before working in Costa Rica government, is no stranger to criticism and problems defending the DIS. In June of this year he had to fight accusations that members of the DIS were not paid enough and therefore finding jobs ‘on the side’ in security, including offering security to narco-traffickers. These came about around the same time the DIS filed a report linking several high government officials with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). This led to reports that the DIS uses unlawful spying tactics and had political reasons behind attacking members of certain political parties. The defense always remained that the DIS is a government body outside of politics and that intelligence is essential to defend a country in lieu of a standing army.

Photo courtesy of La Nacion.

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