The objectives of the agreements were educational: ‘design assessment instruments and assessment of the National Leveling and Admission System (SNNA)‘, ‘coordinate actions to provide advice to the innovative projects of the Bank of Ideas’,’ forum to analyze the behavior of the media in the political context. ‘ But $ 320,047 of the $ 2’043,300 paid by state entities to the International Center for Advanced Communications Studies for Latin America (Ciespal) were used in expenses that had little to do with their purpose.
Payments for restaurants, lodging in luxury hotels, purchase of liquors, the assembly of a cocktail, the payment of two garages and even the rent bills of the apartment of Francisco Sierra, then director of the institution, are some of the expenses made with the money that the Senesyct and the extinct Ministry of Coordination and Human Talent allocated to this body, recognized to promote the democratization of communication and journalistic ethics.
This is indicated by a report of the General Comptroller of the State, recently approved, which analyzes the use given to public resources in the entity from 2014 to 2017. Of the $ 10’173. 034 received by Ciespal, the analysis studied only the disbursement of $ 4’765,056.
The document, which gives rise to a report with criminal responsibility indices, also found thirteen other irregularities.
Among them is the creation of the Directorate of the Observatory of Science, Technology and Education, which was done without complying with the procedures contemplated in the regulations of the institute and without the approval of the Board of Directors thereof, which must be included, by law, members of entities such as the Central University, Foreign Ministry, Unesco, the Organization of American States, among others.
To this end, one month after the observatory was created, in 2016, the bylaws regarding hiring were modified, thus allowing this direction to be led by René Ramírez, then secretary of the Senesyct and president of the Board of Directors of Ciespal. Four other officials of this and the Council of Higher Education (CES) were hired in the same way.
In this regard, Sierra indicated that the creation of this secretariat “responded to an agreement” of the institution with the Senesyct. But of the supposed agreement, said the auditors, they found no trace. “The Observatory of Science, Technology, Innovation and Higher Education” Observasur, was not an object, nor was it included in any obligation of agreements financed with State resources; as well as, there were no documents that support and endorse the creation of the same, “says the report.
According to the details of the document, Ramírez, for his work in this direction, received more than $ 37,000. This did not answer requests for information.
The document also found payments of $ 280,158 to five officials who were not part of Ciespal’s organizational chart and who were created posts with the approval of the institution. Of its work, supposedly related to interinstitutional communication, the Comptroller’s Office found no support or justification.
The responses of both Sierra and the other Ciespal officials are diverse. Throughout the document, several reiterate that this is an international entity and is not obliged to respond to the Comptroller. This is contradicted by the Constitution which states that institutions financed mostly with public funds are subject to inspections. This is the case of the institution, whose liquidity comes from 92% of the State.
The ex-employees and employees mentioned in the report will have thirty days to make a breakdown and justify their actions with evidence. Meanwhile, the entity enlists an upcoming media training workshop for institutional spokespersons.
The special examination to the Comptroller was requested by Gissela Dávila Cobo, who assumed the leadership of Ciespal after the departure of Sierra. This indicated through its communication department that the order was made to verify the status of the entity.
Salary in dispute
The report questions the payment of salaries for $ 45,892 to Sierra when he was out of the country and whose justifications were never presented. Additionally, he changed his way of working without permission and signed his own settlement without resigning.
Payments to private
The document questions a payment of $ 168,587 to members of Fundación Medialab, in Quito, an entity in private law and that does not appear within the structure of Ciespal. Deficiencies were also established in a contract with the company Siddartha Films de Quito, for $ 90,983.
Comptroller analyzed the purchase of 15 laptops, acquired at $ 1,456 each. Of these, the team of auditors did not find seven and did not find the minutes of delivery of the same or documents about who they were from. It was found that one of these was sold to the former director for $470. (I)