According to the “National Situation Report on Drugs and Related Activities 2016” report presented on Monday by the Costa Rican Institute on Drugs (ICD), the Deputy Prosecutor’s Office for Money Laundering dismissed 73% of the 195 cases completed during the years 2015 and 2016.
For example, in 2015, 65 of the 95 concluded cases were dismissed; and in 2016, the dismissal occurred in 78 of 100 concluded cases.
During 2015 and 2016, a total of 40 people were convicted for the crime of money laundering, with 2016 being the year with the highest number of people convicted of this crime since 2010. In total, 23 people were convicted.
The report also explains that from 2010 to 2016 there were 158 sentences, 64 of which were acquittals and 94 were convictions.
The fact that only during the years 2010 and 2011 the percentage of convictions are equal to or greater than 75%, shows that the Prosecutor’s Office must improve its strategies to take a case to trial,”
says the document.
The study explains that obtaining a conviction is complex because it must be demonstrated that there is a preceding crime related to drug trafficking, terrorism or organized crime. The Director of the ICD, Guillermo Araya, explained that efforts have been made to stop money laundering in recent years, but it is extremely important to demonstrate illicit money when mixed with licit activities.
In March, both the Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ) and the Public Ministry commented that cases are rising. The judicial authorities explained that the suspects suddenly have properties of millions of colones, luxurious vehicles and inexplicable incomes.
Álvaro Montoya, deputy prosecutor of the Capital Legitimacy Prosecutor’s Office told CRHoy.com that they are investigating many money laundering suspects, but only 20% are convicted and the rest are dismissed for innocence or lack of evidence.
There are many suspicious activities but they are difficult to prove. One thing is town gossip, and another is that I, as a prosecutor, must be 100% sure that the money with which a house was built or a luxury car was purchased comes from a crime,”
acknowledged the prosecutor.
Similarly, at the beginning of the year, the US Department of State said that drug trafficking is the largest “launderer” of illicit capital in Costa Rica, according to the “International Narcotics Control Strategy 2017”. In the 203-page document it is stressed that the country continues to be a base for criminal organizations, increasingly used for drug trafficking and money laundering.
The ICD made 236 reports of suspicious transactions (STRs) linked to the legitimization of capital in the last year, but only 56 cases were transferred to the Public Prosecutor’s Office for investigation and only eight cases led to the opening of a file.
The report revealed that during 2016 there was an increase of 8.3% compared to the previous year. It also states that the banks were responsible for 78% of these reports.