Several routes and few results in sight. The recovery of money diverted in cases of corruption or ‘lost’ due to administrative and contractual failures still does not land in concrete actions. The Comptroller’s Office, the Executive, the Assembly, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Courts … all have something to say but few results to show.
The administrative path has a little clearer the panorama: the Comptroller, at least, is clear how much should recover. The control entity has issued credit titles for 684 million dollars against public officials for irregularities that cost the State money.
This value includes capital, interest and court costs. Corresponds to the processes of determination of glosses and fines, in recent years.
Until last year, the control entity pre-established glosses for 1,150 million and fines for 10,5 million.
The problem, however, is subsequent to that predetermination. First, because by law, those sanctioned can appeal the securities to be paid before the Contentious Court. Second, the attribution of charging these values is not only in the hands of the Comptroller. For example, entities such as Petroecuador or local governments have coercive capacity and, therefore, carry their own records of the ‘recovered’.
The judicial process is much slower. In the famous cases of corruption in Petroecuador and the plot associated with the Brazilian firm Odebrecht, they have only had two ‘partial results’. Tomislav Topic, shareholder of Telconet, gave the Prosecutor’s Office 2.5 million dollars as evidence. That money supposedly would have reached your accounts from an unknown sender.
Last year also, the Swiss Prosecutor’s Office ordered the freezing of the accounts of Álex Bravo, ex-manager of Petroecuador. In that case, trying to bring the money back will involve a long process of international cooperation.
As one of the problems is, precisely, that the money is not in the country, the Executive claims to have taken letters. Last week, the presidential adviser, Santiago Cuesta, said the government hired five companies to recover the money from corruption. He did not give more details because, he said, the information is reserved. So much that the information of the alleged contracts does not even appear in the ‘Transparency’ section of the Presidency of the Republic.
Although legislators recognize that there is existing legislation “that allows the recovery of property that is the product of an illegal act”, they approved the Anti-Corruption Law that proposes procedural changes. The text is in the hands of the Executive for its veto.
One of the reforms was to include in the norm the possibility of confiscation without conviction. An action is taken, says the Commission’s report, against property that does not require a declaration of prior criminal responsibility. The “third party confiscation” was also regulated.
The report with indications of criminal responsibility of the Office of the Comptroller General will no longer be a requirement to initiate a tax investigation in cases of embezzlement and illicit enrichment. It will be required, says the norm, only for the fiscal accusation. (I)