Orders for international criminal assistance may take several months. Ex-Prosecutor Franklin Bravo knows that, he led the investigation of corruption in the state company Petroecuador.
Through criminal assistance, the Office of the Prosecutor also obtained elements to reach sentences in the Odebrecht case, opened against former Vice President Jorge Glas and others, sentenced to six years in prison for illicit association and against the former Minister of Electricity Alecksey Mosquera, who received five years for money laundering.
Now the Prosecutor’s Office seeks information on alleged irregularities in the petroleum pre-sale to Petrochina. The Comptroller’s Office analyzed Petroecuador’s contracts with Petrochina and Unipec, between January 2012 and August 2016 and determined indications of responsibility for embezzlement.
On Monday, prosecutor Paúl Pérez asked the Directorate of International Affairs to manage, through criminal assistance, a request for information to 12 countries, including some considered tax havens, from accounts that could have a score of former officials of the correísmo.
The list is headed by former President Rafael Correa and ex-ministers, contractors and even former prosecutor Galo Chiriboga and ex-fugitive former comptroller Carlos Pólit, sentenced to six years in prison for concussion in the Odebrecht case.
Former Financial Crimes Prosecutor Fernando Lara believes that Pérez’s request is, in practice, inofficious. “Most tax havens, if not all have legislation that protects this information,” he says.
For the former official, the request should be made with specific information, that is, specifying numbers of accounts and beneficiaries and that information the Prosecutor does not have. He believes that procedurally, the request should be made to exhaust the investigative process.
He insists that in tax havens banking information is restricted. “Especially that there is no specific order, but general, they will not answer, but give general information,” he reiterates.
Ex-Prosecutor Bravo was lucky when investigating corruption in Petroecuador. Panama responded to his request when he asked the ex-manager of the state company Álex Bravo and obtained the details of the accounts, companies and transfers.
All this allowed Bravo and others such as former Minister of Hydrocarbons Carlos Pareja Yannuzzelli to be sentenced for crimes such as bribery, organized crime, illicit enrichment, among others.
Bravo points out that assistance is through diplomatic channels. That is to say: the Office of the Prosecutor sends its request to the Foreign Ministry and, in turn, sends the request to the ambassador of the country to which it is requested and this to the corresponding body.
In the best of cases, the answers arrive in a month. But it can take five months, everything depends on the sovereign will of the country, he insists.
In the Petrochina case, some versions have already been received. Among them the one of ex-President Correa, the businessman Enrique Cadena and the activist Fernando Villavicencio that assures that by the petroleum presale the State was harmed in 2.200 million dollars.
Ex-prosecutor Chiriboga told EXPRESO that the date on which the Board of Directors authorized the signing of the oil purchase contract was on July 23, 2009, and he ceased to be a minister in October 2008.
A specific information requested by the Office of the Prosecutor in the request for assistance is statements of accounts, supports, annexes of account 1009634, in the name of Marco Calvopiña in the bank Northern Trust.
The director of the UAFE, Diana Salazar, says that the tracking becomes complicated because that is the characteristic of those States where the legislation is so strict on secrecy that they do not easily reveal the identity.
The case was presented by ex-legislator Diego Salgado. The activist Fernando Villavicencio also incorporated information and the Comptroller presented a report with indications of responsibility. (I)