The former national coordinator of IESS medical units, María Sol Larrea, has been in jail for five months. And another seven will be detained until completing a year of punishment for influence peddling. But against her are also open processes for possible embezzlement and illicit enrichment, which are still under investigation. Penalties for influence peddling go between three and five years, although Larrea agreed to a lesser penalty after she agreed to be the author of the crime.
Larrea came to the coordination in 2012 and among its tasks was the supervision of public procurement processes in the IESS hospitals. Three years later, the Comptroller appointed her in an examination in which she established criminal responsibility. The document, which served as the basis for the Attorney General’s Office to investigate it, details a series of irregularities in a contract made for USD 2.9 million.
The negotiation was carried out to contract a cleaning service for the hospitals of Santo Domingo and Babahoyo. In the conclusions of the examination conducted by the Comptroller General, Larrea was asked to approve the expense, even though the proposals he presented did not allow “to determine the needs of the cleaning services (…)”.
Initially, Larrea requested an investment of more than USD 2.9 million. She said that USD 7.9 million is required for a cleaning service that would operate for five years. She pointed out that this item would mean a saving of USD 812 436 for the IESS. During the investigation, the auditors established that the company “did not meet the minimum requirements” to win the contest.
The exam explains that of 17 bidders, 12 did not meet the requirements and that the winner had a score of 97.22 points out of 100. The Office of the Prosecutor also investigates the selection process of the company.
On January 8, prosecutor José Maldonado, who investigates influence peddling, took Larrea’s version from the Latacunga prison. The former functionary spoke of the process and said: “I know and know that it was in the economist Ramiro González’s interest to award this process to the company (which he won), pressing the members of the Technical Commission for its adjudication.”
After this statement she refused to answer the questions of the prosecutor and the lawyers of González, who was the president of the IESS in 2012. The former official is also investigated in this process, but has been on the run since last August. In fact, a capture order weighs on her. Her lawyer, Raúl Rosero, indicated to this newspaper that he will not pronounce himself until the Prosecutor’s Office officially accuses him, although there is still no date for the hearing in which it will be known if González goes to trial.
Iván Venegas, attorney for Larrea, said he will not rule on the matter either. In addition to Larrea and González, 11 others are processed for influence peddling. Among the inquiries are authorities that in 2012 were part of the Insurance Directive Council, representatives of the contracted firm and members of a Technical Commission and a subcommittee.
The investigations determined that the company that won the award for the cleanup of the two hospitals “did not meet all the contractual conditions.” In the health houses, the auditors detected that neither the cleaning supplies were in stock nor were they labeled or packaged correctly. This was one more fault of the company. The equipment they used for cleaning did not operate 100%. That, for example, occurred when they were sterilized offices, emergencies, operating rooms, hospitalization, administrative areas, etc.
The auditors even pointed out that the personnel who performed the cleaning service had shortcomings in the two hospitals. They were not trained. Initially, this case was investigated for alleged embezzlement (punishable by jail for up to 13 years) and then passed on to influence peddling.
The ex-president of Social Security is currently investigated for influence peddling and tax fraud. Last August, the Prosecutor’s Office searched his house in Quito and the offices of Avanza, a political party that González founded and led.
María Sol Larrea
The former staff member was arrested at the Mariscal Sucre airport in August. The police informed that she had planned to travel to the USA together with her family. Her husband was sentenced to three years in prison for unjustified private enrichment. (I)