The 10 articles and the five provisions contained in the Anticorruption and Protection of the Whistleblower Act were analyzed, this Wednesday, January 30, 2019, in the Legislative Justice Committee. There the draft is prepared for the second and final debate. The text was sent by the Presidency last September.
The Government needs this law to take effect, saying that only then will it “hand over” to the Prosecutor’s Office the names of the 17 figureheads who lent their names to high-ranking ex-officers of Correismo.
According to Iván Granda, undersecretary of Political Action, with the new law these 17 people will reveal the illegal money routes and in return they will receive protection and benefits. For the criminalist Gabriel Ponce, “the Prosecutor’s Office cannot be conditioned; he must exercise criminal action (investigate) ex officio, because that is his task “.
The lawyer indicates that the Office of the Prosecutor must open a preliminary inquiry and ask the Presidency for the names and information of the front-men, without waiting for the Law to be enacted. “If it is expected, it would be irresponsible for the General Prosecutor’s Office and the Office of the Undersecretary.”
Ponce says that only with the Office of the Prosecutor can sign a cooperation agreement and receive benefits, such as reduction of sentences, which are already raised in the Comprehensive Criminal Code (COIP).
Gonzalo Silva agrees with that criterion. “If it is now known that there are front-men, it is the responsibility of the Undersecretary to present the complaint with names and surnames; keep silence knowing what is behind it, makes it a co-author or accomplice “. He also emphasizes that this type of agreement must be signed based on the Criminal Code, because “it is the only legal framework that allows cooperation in criminal matters.”
The COIP even considers as a contravention the fact that a public servant does not report acts of corruption. Article 277 determines that the sanction in these cases is jail, from 15 to 30 days. For Granda, the research work and approach to these ‘front-men’ is based on the policies of the government of President Lenin Moreno, “policies that are written in the lines of strategic planning of the State.”
According to the official, “the fight against corruption is one of the main actions of the President,” but says that “they need the unrestricted support of the judiciary.” Granda affirms that the work of the Undersecretariat is carried out with the collaboration of “all the institutions linked to an exercise of persecution or investigation for recovery of money laundering”.
Does it include the Office of the Prosecutor? “Of course,” he adds. President Moreno also defends this initiative. “We have gone beyond our responsibilities, to demonstrate that it is possible to recover the money of the Ecuadorians,” he said after the Undersecretariat and the Financial Analysis Unit made an agreement with businessman Tomislav Topic.
Through this agreement the employer undertook to consign to the State USD 13.5 million, from Odebrecht. This Wednesday, January 30, this newspaper sought a reaction from the attorney general in charge, Ruth Palacios. But the institution did not respond.
However, after the agreement with Topic, Palacios told this newspaper that the “owner of the criminal action” is the Public Prosecutor’s Office and that this entity is the only one that can determine the legal benefits that cooperators or informers have. The bill sent by the Executive promotes five types of benefits for those who provide data.
For example, those who help to recover money from corruption will be given 20% of the total, provided they have not participated in the crime. Public servants who report will be given public recognition, may request administrative transfers and change jobs and obtain licenses with remuneration.
Anyone who is part of a corruption network, who has lent his name or helped hide illegally-owned assets, will be allowed to sign effective cooperation agreements with the Office of the Prosecutor.
Through this route they will also benefit from the conditional suspension of the sentence, that is, they will be able to carry out their sentences in freedom. Lawmaker Henry Cucalón, a member of the Justice Commission, says he supports “all the initiatives to recover funds from corruption and persecute the big shots.”
He also ensures that currently legal tools already exist – such as effective cooperation – that allow the tracking of ill-gotten funds. He hopes that the new law will be approved before the legislative vacancy, which begins in mid-February.
In the Assembly there are other anti-corruption initiatives: the Capital Recovery Bill (promoted by Elizabeth Cabezas) and the reforms to the COIP, to transfer seized goods in the name of the State, even though there is no condemnation in the cases.
After the corruption scandal in Petroecuador and the payment scheme of bribes mounted by Odebrecht, the Assembly received a series of initiatives to improve the fight against corruption. Among these was the civil death of the accused.
December 20, 2018
The then Attorney General, Carlos Baca, submitted to the Assembly a draft Law on Extinction of Domain, which has not been approved so far.
August 14, 2018
The Assembly approved the Anti-Corruption Law. This reduced the penalty of the crime of illicit association, for which Jorge Glas was condemned. It was vetoed.
September 12, 2018
The Head of State announced that he had submitted to the National Assembly a project called the Anti-Corruption and Whistleblower Protection Law.
January 15, 2019
The legislators concluded the first debate of the Anticorruption Law, which is impelled by the Presidency. The analysis lasted two hours. (I)