The Office of the Comptroller General of the State is the entity that must analyze 87 contracts for the construction of works and 71 for auditing. These were signed by the Council of the Judiciary (CJ) in the periods 2011-2013 and 2013-2018, for an amount of USD 313.1 million.
The current transitory administration of the CJ requested the audit after identifying indications of irregularities. Of the 87 contracts, four were taken for an analysis and all were suspected of overpricing
Marcelo Merlo, president of the transitional Judiciary, explains that if the trend of this sample is maintained, there would be at least 60% overpricing in the works, which would be equivalent to USD 160 million, only in construction. There are two limitations for the Comptroller. First, that some of these contracts were already audited, when Carlos Pólit (today a fugitive from justice) was Comptroller. And the law prohibits two control actions to the same objective.
This newspaper yesterday requested the Comptroller’s Office a list of the audits that are underway to the infrastructure works of the Judiciary, and also of the works that already have approved reports. The information is not yet delivered.
The second problem, on the other hand, is that -according to the law- the Comptroller can only audit contracts for the seven years prior to the start of the examination. That is to say that, at the moment, exams could be started only of contracts signed from October 2011 onwards.
Last Monday, Merlo met with the comptroller Pablo Celi to analyze this problem. They agreed that the exams will be started immediately and will begin with those who are about to prescribe. The indications were also delivered to the Office of the Prosecutor for investigation. But the Attorney General in charge, Paul Perez, clarified that this entity is with its hands tied, while the Comptroller does not send reports with indications of criminal responsibility.
However, while these indications are found and the reports are issued, if this happens, they will advance the investigation based on an agreement recently signed with the Comptroller’s Office, the National Assembly and the UAFE. Three of the four projects evaluated with alleged irregularities were executed during the previous period of transition of the Judiciary (2011-2013), which was presided over by Paulo Rodríguez Molina.
Even in that period contracts were found with companies that would have family ties with the former official. The remaining project is the Quito North Judicial Complex, inaugurated last January and executed by the Judiciary chaired by Gustavo Jalkh. The former official told this newspaper yesterday that things are getting confused.
First, he clarified that this work, unlike the others, was not contracted during the emergency period (transition) but that a tender was carried out and awarded to the contractor who presented the cheapest offer.
Regarding the other works, however, he indicated that when he took office he asked the Comptroller’s Office to investigate the contracts of the CJ 2011-2014 and that those examinations already determined some administrative responsibilities. (I)