The telecommunications entrepreneur, Tomislav Topic, is investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office. Now the entity tracks a possible influence peddling during the bidding processes of two contracts signed between Telconet, in which Topic is a shareholder, and the Ministry of Telecommunications.
The agreements are LICBS-MINTEL-0121-2010 and LICBS-MINTEL-0121-2016 to provide connectivity (for example, Internet) to 1,790 public schools and 29 social development agencies. The first is an agreement for USD 13.4 million and was signed on February 3, 2011, when Jaime Guerrero Ruiz was a minister in that portfolio. The second is a complementary contract, for USD 647 842, signed on February 4, 2016, during the management of former Minister Augusto Espín Tobar.
Both processes were reviewed by the Comptroller General of the State and on September 4, the examination with indications of criminal responsibility was remitted to the General Prosecutor’s Office. In that document, the auditors noted that during the tender, “the members of the technical committee, which evaluated the offers, did not notice that the partners of two bidders (Telconet and Megadatos) are brothers”.
The latter company has Maria Ljubica Topic (sister of Tomislav), as one of its shareholders, according to the page of the Superintendence of Companies. On this point, the Public Procurement Law does not define the family relationship as an inability to contract with the State.
In the report, the Comptroller also determined that the studies, reference budgets and terms of reference were made without a defined methodology. In addition, the contract documents presented incomplete information.
Yesterday, September 13, 2018, this Journal requested the version of Topic. But through a text message, the businessman explained that he had not yet been notified about the start of the investigation and therefore had nothing to comment on.
This case is added to the file opened in 2017 for alleged money laundering, in which Ricardo Rivera, uncle of Jorge Glas, is linked. In this process, the Prosecutor’s Office plans to file charges only against Rivera on September 20. The decision of the prosecutor César Suárez Pilay, in charge of the case of laundering, not to press charges against Topic, caused the reaction of the defense of Tamar Verduga, ex-Topic, who has a divorce trial in the US.
Xavier Castro, a lawyer for women, said that for weeks, his client wants to deliver documents to the Prosecutor’s Office about the crime. “However, the prosecutor has not let my client participate as a victim of this plot.” One of the documents that the lawyer wants to deliver is the supposed will of Topic.
“There Rivera is named several times. For example, there it is revealed that there is USD 3 million in the account of the (bank) Merryl Linch that are actually Rivera’s.” On this document, Topic has indicated that it is a forged testament.
According to him, in 2011 someone entered his computer, modified the text and sent it to his wife. Therefore, since that year there is a legal prohibition to disseminate the content. Within the divorce trial in the US, Castro indicated that that country revoked Topic’s visa. “It is possible that the reason is for the legal processes in which it is being investigated,” the jurist added. (I)