Letter requesting Canadian government collaboration with Costa Rican investigation
Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs
We, the undersigned, are requesting that the Canadian government respond to any and all requests for information that may be submitted to Canada by Costa Rica’s new Attorney General, Emilia Navas, with regard to an alleged transfer of funds in 2008 from Canada to Costa Rica. This is related to a previously closed case involving the ex-President of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias Sanchez, which has been re-opened by Attorney General Navas. Arias is being investigated for possible malfeasance with regard to a possible transfer of $200,000 to the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress just prior to the issuance of an Executive Decree by then-President Arias to permit Canadian mining company, Infinito Gold, to proceed with an open-pit gold mine, despite an existing prohibition against open-pit gold mining in Costa Rica.
The former Attorney General for Costa Rica, Jorge Chavarria, has recently had to step down from this post under a cloud of suspicion, and the new interim Attorney General, Emilia Navas, has moved to re-open several of the cases closed down during Chavarria’s time. Prime among these is file 12-000124-0621-PE (or File) to investigate the motivation behind Arias’ sudden 2008 Decree declaring the immediate development of the Crucitas mining project to be “in the public interest and of national convenience”.
When the Arias/Infinito File was closed in 2015, former Attorney General Chavarria stated that the case against Arias lacked sufficient evidence because Canada had not provided Costa Rica with the requested documentation regarding a possible transfer of funds in 2008, after Infinito Gold’s major shareholder visited the Arias Foundation in San Jose. Through two Freedom of Information requests in Canada (#3214-00572 and #3213-00966) in 2013 and 2014, we were able to ascertain that the RCMP had been in touch with Interpol about this case. Despite its significance to the Costa Rican request, any information they may have assembled and passed on to Canada’s Department of Justice was never shared by Canada with Costa Rican officials. This apparent unwillingness of Canadian authorities to supply the requested documentation allowed Chavarria with an excuse to suggest closing down the investigation and Arias did not go to trial. It is worth mentioning, however, that Arias’ Minister of the Environment, Roberto Dobles, who co-signed Arias’ 2008 Decree of National Convenience, was found guilty of malfeasance and received a three year prison sentence (under appeal).
The recent request from Costa Rica’s Public Prosecutor to re-open this File states: “Following the recent juridical analysis done of the case, it has been determined that it is necessary to deepen the search for new evidence that, at the time, was not incorporated into the investigation’s file.” In order for the new Attorney General of Costa Rica to get to the bottom of this case it is vital that she gain access to the information that Canada’s Department of Justice gathered previously, but never shared with the Costa Rican authorities.
Canada’s current government has stated an interest in reversing the ‘bad neighbour’ image projected by the previous Canadian administration. In light of this, we urge the Canadian government to cooperate with the appropriate Costa Rican authorities to provide the necessary documentation in a complete and timely manner that will allow them to adequately judge the merits of this case.
Thank you for your attention in this important matter.
Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada
Brent Patterson, Political Director of the Council of Canadians
Raul Burbano, Program Director, Common Frontiers