“Narco” on the verge of financing political campaigns

QCOSTARICA – The spending of money is regulated, but not its origin, resulting in a lack of control which could, during the six months of the political campaign – when considering a second round – allow linked criminal groups drug trafficking to launder billions of colones, warns the State of the Nation in its latest report released Tuesday evening.

Criminal gangs could legally use election process to launder dirty money, State of the Nation report warns

The point is that the political debt system that parties use to fund their campaign operations is very vulnerable to the entry of illicit capital, this is because the current system focuses on accountability for party spending. , while leaving virtually free the origin of resources, according to Rónald Alfaro, in charge of the political domain of the report on the State of the Nation.

“The Tribunal Supremo de Electiones (TSE, Supreme Elections Tribunal) has made a big effort to make information transparent about how (political) parties spend their money, but the same controls do not exist to know where it comes from. these resources, so there is a great risk that the parties will receive money from sources of questionable origin, ”Alfaro added.

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For the presidential elections, the political parties feed on donations (13%), own resources (34%) and debt (53%).

In this sense, it may be that a person seems interested in buying political debt bonds and since there are no greater controls, political parties accept and end up laundering dirty money indirectly.

Later, criminal organizations can collect this money plus interest, when the political debt is canceled, that is, the contribution that the state pays to political parties that get more than 4% of the votes valid for the president. or those who elect at least one legislator, to finance their operations.

In an extreme case, criminals could launder the equivalent of 19 billion yen, assuming they manage to fund all the parties which then collect the state’s political debt.

On the other hand, it can also happen that a criminal makes donations to a party, with the aim of making a profit later in one way or another.

In this sense, the judicial authorities have already warned against the danger of drug trafficking in politics.

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“It is very common for drug traffickers to buy consciences in all the powers of the Republic, to obtain favors”, declared Wálter Espinoza, director of the IJO in legislative committee at the beginning of October to raise this question.

On the other hand, last week, Eduardo Cruickshank, candidate for the presidency of the Partido Restauración Nacional (PRN), asked Manuel Acón, who aspires to be a PRN deputy for Guanacaste, to resign from his aspirations, since the OIJ warned that he had had various telephone contacts with a man believed to be the leader of a drug gang that had been dismantled in the previous days and who had used AyA’s public tenders to launder his money.

Likewise, Congress conducted a political inquiry to determine the involvement of drug trafficking in politics and in municipalities this year.

On the other hand, the possibility of illegitimate money entering the campaign is conceivable, considering that the parties would have difficulties in accessing loans and taking into account the economic situation of the country, in particular caused by the pandemic, where donations would still be reduced.

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Previously, the TSE had raised the issue.

“The state’s contribution does not reach political parties in a timely or fair manner, which, nevertheless, have increasing costs with each election campaign to face their challenge in the competition for political power,” said the TSE in a press release.

This could lead criminal gangs to use the electoral process to launder their dirty money and political parties willing to accept dirty money, legally, without questioning its origin.

“When the rules allow party funding controls to be on the side of how it’s spent, but not where the resources come from, the doors are open. There is a great risk, a great vulnerability, that the parties will receive money from sources of dubious origin, because it is not audited, or rather, it is more difficult to control ”, explained Rónald Alfaro.

“Criminal organizations can penetrate political structures and the state itself for their benefit,” added Walter Espinoza.

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