(Ottawa/Toronto) Three Canadian organizations, MiningWatch Canada, the Council of Canadians, and Common Frontiers, have written to Canada’s Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, calling on the Canadian government to respond to any forthcoming requests from Costa Rica’s new Attorney General, Emilia Navas, in a complete and timely manner.
The Canadian government is believed to have information relevant to a recently re-opened investigation concerning possible malfeasance on the part of ex-President of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias Sanchez, with regard to an alleged transfer of $200,000 from Infinito Gold’s largest shareholder to the Arias Foundation in 2008. The transfer of funds took place just before then-President Arias issued an Executive Decree to allow the Canadian mining company to proceed with an open-pit gold mine, despite Costa Rica’s prohibition against open-pit gold mining.
Through Freedom of Information requests, the three Canadian organizations that wrote to the Minsters this week ascertained that Canada has previously been asked for information on this possible transfer of funds in 2013 and that the RCMP had contacted Interpol about this case. But whatever information that the Department of Justice may have was never turned over to the Costa Rican authorities. Citing Canada’s lack of collaboration, Costa Rica’s then-Attorney General Jorge Chavarria successfully requested to have the case against Arias closed for lack of evidence in 2015. However, while Arias avoided trial at the time, his Minister of the Environment, who co-signed the Executive Decree in support of Infinito’s project, was found guilty of malfeasance and was sentenced to three years in prison.
In order for the new Costa Rican Attorney General to proceed with this investigation and adequately judge the merits of this case, Canadian organizations urge the Canadian government to fully cooperate with Costa Rican authorities this time.
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