The official considers that the Prosecutor’s proposal to reform the COIP so that it can prosecute cases of embezzlement must be analyzed. The General Attorney of the State has faced investment lawsuits for the last 9 years for more than $ 9,532 million, but the entity’s performance has made it possible to reduce the claims to $ 1,663 million, according to data issued by the institution.
However, their powers are not clear, especially in cases of corruption, aired in the national courts in recent months. Diego García Carrión, in a dialogue with EL TELÉGRAFO, explained how the entity that he leads without pause intervenes since 2008.
What is the role of the Attorneys office in the follow-up of corruption cases?
After the reforms to the Organic Law of the National System of Public Procurement in 2008, the Attorneys Office stopped making pronouncements prior to contracting with the State and only has the capacity to make a subsequent legal control. From the cases that appeared since 2016, the Attorney Office has intervened in the procedural follow-up in order to define which public entities must present specific accusations. At the moment we are reviewing all the contracts that Odebrecht had in the country, but the indications that the Attorney General’s office finds will always end up in the hands of the Comptroller so that he can determine the responsibilities.
But in the last case of illicit association by Odebrecht’s bribes, the Attorneys office was separated from the process because its lawyers arrived late, did that harm the State?
The reading of the oral sentence by the judges of the National Court of Justice reflected the direct participation of the Attorneys Office because the theory of the case we developed was also taken into account when issuing an oral sentence. And while no details were made on the amounts, I am sure that at the time of issuance of the written statement will include the breakdown of the figures that must be paid by each sentenced as full reparation and supported by the Attorney while he was present. At the beginning of the hearing we talked about $ 35 million.
In what way did it hurt the State that officials received bribes?
When there is a corruption scheme, the public procurement control system is affected by being linked in an illicit private association with high-ranking public officials, regardless of whether there was a surcharge in hiring, which is an issue that must be investigated. The thesis that the Attorneys Office maintained and that the judges adopted is that although they sentenced on the average crime that is the illicit association, it is still necessary to analyze the commission of crimes such as bribery, money laundering, embezzlement, but the latter always needs a report from the Comptroller’s Office, which has already delivered 10 reports with indications of criminal responsibility that the Prosecutor’s Office is investigating.
The Prosecutor has requested reforms to the COIP to be able to prosecute cases of embezzlement without the need for a prior report from the Comptroller’s Office. What do you think?
It is a subject that must be analyzed; Ecuador already had a system in which the Office of the Prosecutor could resolve on its own without the Comptroller’s Office and precisely because of that there were excesses and political use that led Ecuador to make a different decision; today we are in the other position, so we must find a point where the prosecutor can investigate, regardless of the analysis of the Comptroller, but there are enough controls so that no authority abuses a power at a given time and makes decisions that respond more to a political vision than a legal one. I agree that I can open an investigation because the Prosecutor’s Office has that power; what must be determined is when to proceed to the stage of judicialization, under what limits or before what type of judges.
On the international issue, how many arbitration does Ecuador face?
At the moment we still have 9 active arbitrations so that Ecuador has to continue discussing some cases for approximately $ 2,625 million, in disputes with multinationals such as Perenco, partner of Burlington and Chevron, which has no amount.
What has the Office of the Attorney done taking into account that Ecuador has been sentenced to pay more than $ 1,600 million for lost awards?
The figures show the opposite; we are talking about an 86% of avoided payment in international processes, in cases where it was claimed to claim high amounts such as Occidental, which asked for $ 3.400 million, Chevron $ 1.600 million, Burlington $ 1.500 million and it was possible to reduce the amounts to pay enough . This would not have been possible without an adequate defense of the interests of Ecuador, through the Prosecutors office and its team of lawyers.
Why does the State lose so much money in this type of awards?
Ecuador has been denouncing for a long time the way in which investment protection agreements were signed in the 1990s and how international arbitral tribunals have accepted claims from foreign investors under these treaties based on the ambiguity of their terms.
We denounce the last year all of these treaties and in turn we proposed alternatives for new investment agreements that have clear terms. Is it the responsibility of those who signed the treaties?
Definitely, there was a lack of knowledge and a thesis to attract investments without knowing the terms of the agreements; that was part of what the audit analyzed and in mid-2017 those agreements were terminated. (I)