January 16, 2021

Alleged corruption in purchases by the coronavirus in Honduras investigated


The Honduran Public Ministry has launched an investigation into multiple complaints from civil society groups about alleged corruption in purchases that the Government is making to combat the coronavirus epidemic, the inspection agency reported.

Some of the alleged purchases, according to complaints made in local media and social networks, are reportedly being made at altered prices, which officials who are involved in the state plan against the coronavirus have rejected.

CONTINGENCY COMMISSION INVESTIGATED

The investigation began last day 4 with a team from the Special Prosecutor for Transparency and Fight against Public Corruption (Fetccop) and members of the Technical Agency for Criminal Investigation (Atic), the Public Ministry said in a statement.

The “investigative procedures” began at the Tegucigalpa offices of the state-run Permanent Commission on Contingencies (Copeco), in response to allegations of alleged irregularities in purchases made by the COVID-19 emergency. ”

The Public Ministry indicated that “it considered it appropriate to advance the investigative process, pending what the High Court of Accounts (TSC) is doing regarding emergency purchases in Copeco,” even though there is a special law that “establishes that Before an investigation there must be a TSC report.

This is the Special Law for the Management, Assignment, Execution, Liquidation and Accountability of Public Funds, of 2019.

LAW DOES NOT HELP FIGHT CORRUPTION

Regarding this law, the Public Ministry recalled today that, in October 2019, it filed an appeal of unconstitutionality, considering, among other aspects, that it allows “replacing the power that the judicial power has to judge and grants this power to the TSC, thus stopping investigative powers and progress in the fight against corruption. ”

In addition, the Public Ministry indicated that a 2019 legislative decree exceeds the limits, establishing, regarding the TSC, “to know exclusively about the crime of illicit enrichment, giving it excessive power to intervene in the classification of other criminal types.

This makes it impossible for the Public Ministry “to exercise public criminal action in crimes related to the use and improper exploitation of public resources such as embezzlement of public funds and others related to the corruption of officials.”

WATCH CIVIL SOCIETY

Civil society groups are demanding transparency and accountability in expenses during the coronavirus emergency, not only in Copeco, but also in a company responsible for the purchase of mobile hospitals, because, in the same way, they could be doing overvalued acquisitions.

As a result of the complaints against Copeco, the Minister of the Presidency, Ricardo Cardona, ordered on Monday the suspension of the administrator of that body, Cristian Elías Santellí.

In addition, the high official ordered “to suspend all employees who were related to sending information to the Ministry of Finance regarding purchases made during the emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

IRREGULARITIES IN MAYORIES

Apparently, the alleged purchase of some devices such as televisions, coffee machines and other things, which were overrated, have not yet been made, according to the head of the TSC, Juan José Pineda.

Other alleged cases of corruption are reportedly being registered in several of the 292 mayoralties, of the 298 that the country has, to which the Government has recently disbursed millions of items to buy food for poor families and other needs in the face of the coronavirus emergency. .

As Juan José Pineda said today, at least 9 mayoralties are being audited by the TSC, following multiple complaints about alleged corruption, such as acts contrary to accountability or the rejection of an internal auditor in local governments.

PRESIDENT’S REACTION

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández said Tuesday that “the public servant and businessman who abuse this emergency, what awaits him is jail.”

“We are not going to allow an ill-born person to come and abuse the resources of the Honduran people,” the president stressed in an interview with a local television channel, in response to complaints about alleged corruption at Copeco.

On the 26th, representatives of Transparency International (TI) in Latin America warned that corruption may increase in the region from the purchases and contracts made by the governments of these nations to face the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The approach was made at a virtual press conference in which 13 representatives of the Latin American chapters of TI participated to draw attention to the need for aid intended to alleviate the situation not to be diverted “by corruption and opportunism.”

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