NICARAGUA: COMPTROLLER GENERAL & PRESIDENT ARNOLDO ALEMAN LOCKED IN NEW STRUGGLE REGARDING CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS.President Arnoldo Aleman has renewed his resistance to investigation by the state comptroller The power of the Knesset to supervise and review government policies and operations is exercised mainly through the state comptroller (Hebrew: מבקר המדינה (Contraloria General de la Republica, CGR CGR Campo Grande, Mato Grosso Do Sul, Brazil (Airport Code)
CGR Crop Growth Rate
CGR Compound Growth Rate
CGR Center for Glass Research (NY State College of Ceramics)
CGR Condensate Gas Ratio ) of allegations against himself and his administration. Aleman's current battle with the CGR regarding the building of a heliport heliport, airport designed exclusively for helicopter traffic. on his property and other issues is reminiscent of the two-year struggle he had with former comptroller general Noun 1. Comptroller General - a United States federal official who supervises expenditures and settles claims against the government
functionary, official - a worker who holds or is invested with an office Agustin Jarquin, and it supports claims that anti-corruption efforts have stalled or ended.
Annoyed with Jarquin's audits of the central bank and other state agencies, Aleman began a campaign to remove him from office in August 1998. The battle intensified in early 1999 when Jarquin challenged the president to declare his personal assets. Aleman retaliated, first accusing Jarquin of corruption, then having him tried and jailed in November 1999 (see EcoCentral, 1998-09-10, NotiCen, 1999-11-11).
Though Jarquin was soon released by an Appeals Court, the episode prompted the European Union European Union (EU), name given since the ratification (Nov., 1993) of the Treaty of European Union, or Maastricht Treaty, to the
European Community (EU) and international lenders to warn Aleman that he had to do something to restore confidence in Nicaragua's governability. The International Monetary Fund (IMF IMF
See: International Monetary Fund
See International Monetary Fund (IMF). ) conditioned future consideration of Nicaragua for debt relief under the World Bank's Initiative for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) are a group of 37 least developed countries with the highest levels of poverty and debt overhang, which are eligible for special assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. (HIPC HiPC High Performance Computing
HIPC Highly Indebted Poor Countries
HIPC Heavily Indebted Poor Country (World Bank initiative)
HIPC Health Insurance Purchasing Cooperative
HIPC Hosted IP Centrex ) on guaranteeing an independent judiciary and CGR (see NotiCen, 2000-01-13).
Then, in a deal with Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (FSLN FSLN Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (Sandinist Front of National Liberation, Nicaragua) ) secretary general Daniel Ortega, Aleman pushed a reform law through the legislature that eliminated Jarquin's position by turning the CGR into a five-member "collegial col·le·gi·al
a. Characterized by or having power and authority vested equally among colleagues: "He . . . " body. The membership was split between the governing Partido Liberal The Partido Liberal could be the
In May, Jarquin told the daily El Nuevo Diario El Nuevo Diario is a Nicaraguan newspaper, with offices in the capital Managua. El Nuevo Diario was founded in 1980 by a breakaway group of employees of La Prensa sympathetic to the Sandinista cause, that included 80 percent of the staff and the editor, Xavier Chamorro Cardenal, that, with the restructuring of the CGR, Aleman thought it would become "docile, submissive, subject to his will."
President has state-built heliport on his property
In April, the local press reported that Aleman had built a private helicopter pad on his property, called Los Chiles Los Chiles is the capital city of the canton of Los Chiles in the province of Alajuela in Costa Rica. It is also the name of the distrito (district) that includes the city. The district of Los Chiles covers an area of 535.93 km² (1), and has a population of 11,064 (2). , south of Managua. Later, there were additional accusations that he had a second heliport built on the property of his sister Amelia Aleman and that he may have purchased the luxury eight-passenger helicopter he uses--all with public funds See Fund, 3.
See also: Public .
Saying that "corruption has reached incredible levels," Comptroller Luis Angel Montenegro, a Sandinista member of the CGR, asked why Aleman had the heliport built on his property when his presidency ends in nine months.
In mid-April, Aleman admitted that the heliport was built with US$35,000 of public money but said it was built on the recommendation of his security force to avoid traffic congestion The condition of a network when there is not enough bandwidth to support the current traffic load.
congestion - When the offered load of a data communication path exceeds the capacity. between the capital and the nearby municipality of El Crucero where the president lives. He said the helicopter was not his but was rented from a Guatemalan firm for between US$700 and US$900 per hour and was used for state business.
The daily La Prensa reported that the helicopter belonged to the Guatemalan company Servicios Ejecutivos Nacionales but that the firm was not registered either in Guatemala or Nicaragua. The report raised the possibility that the craft had been registered to a dummy company to hide its real ownership.
At the same time, El Nuevo Diario said that, according to a source at the airport where the helicopter was kept, the aircraft belonged to Aleman but was not registered to him to avoid inquiries and taxes on it.
The source also said the helicopter would rent for between US$1,500 and US$2,000 per hour and, if bought, would have cost more than US$1.5 million. Aleman has said his assets totaled less than US$1 million.
Anti-corruption efforts lag
FSLN legislator Victor Hugo Tinoco asked the anti-corruption committee of the National Assembly to investigate the heliports, but neither the committee nor government prosecutors have been very active in investigating the steady stream of corruption allegations.
Reformers were outraged recently when the Corte Suprema de Justicia (CSJ) refused to oust four judges accused of various crimes.
"We found four judges who were not fit, and we wanted to discharge them but the court was opposed," said CSJ magistrate Guillermo Selva. "I'm talking about theft, drug trafficking, embezzlement embezzlement, wrongful use, for one's own selfish ends, of the property of another when that property has been legally entrusted to one. Such an act was not larceny at common law because larceny was committed only when property was acquired by a "felonious taking," i. , corruption, and many other things."
Further obstructing corruption investigations, the administration has cut the CGR budget. Montenegro said at least 90 audits have been stalled and 50 requests for audits of municipal and state finances were on hold. He said that, because of criticisms he made against the Treasury Ministry, the CGR received a 10% cut as a "budget castigation."
Montenegro has repeatedly audited government departments and outraged officials by demanding they return per diem per diem adj. or n. Latin for "per day," it is short for payment of daily expenses and/or fees of an employee or an agent. allowances they illegally received for attending meetings and other activities technically outside their departments.
In mid-April, Montenegro renewed Jarquin's efforts to force Aleman to disclose the origin and value of the assets he has accumulated since he became mayor of Managua in 1990. Montenegro said he knew Aleman before then, when he was poor and sold eggs and charcoal.
Following Aleman's confirmation that the heliport was built with public funds, Montenegro asked the CGR to investigate. He said that, if it did not, the CGR members could be charged with a coverup and the National Assembly could fire them.
Montenegro said that he had received death threats since his conflict with Aleman began. He said Aleman decided to "play hardball" in response to the request for disclosure of his assets.
"Look, some calves that are obviously not mine appeared on the property I have in Sapoa," said Montenegro. "But I have already ordered them removed because, without a doubt, whoever put them there planned to bring cameras, judges, and police to accuse me of cattle rustling."
While Montenegro has not received unqualified support from his Liberal colleagues, the CGR as a body has aggressively pressed for transparency and accountability in government.
On April 27, all five comptrollers voted to carry out an audit on the heliport issue and asked the president and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for information on how the two heliports came to be built.
Aleman has struck back at the CGR he helped create. He accused CGR president Guillermo Arguello--a Liberal--of taking illegal per diem money as treasury vice minister, and he blamed Montenegro for the failure of the state Banco Nacional de Desarrollo (BND BND
In currencies, this is the abbreviation for the Brunei Dollar.
The currency market, also known as the Foreign Exchange market, is the largest financial market in the world, with a daily average volume of over US $1 trillion. ).
Pro-Aleman newspapers printed various accusations regarding bank failures during Montenegro's tenure at the Treasury Ministry and alleged that he owned several mansions. Montenegro said he owned one mortgaged house, a car he was still paying on, and had US$3,000 in savings.
In May, Aleman met with the three Liberal comptrollers to discuss the heliports and other corruption issues. El Nuevo Diario quoted a presidential source who said the meeting was to launch a "cleanup operation" to neutralize Montenegro. The source said Aleman had ordered an eight-member task force to investigate all aspects of Montenegro's life and find a reason for Aleman to charge him and send him to jail.
The "cleanup plan" has convinced Aleman's critics that he intends to get rid of Montenegro the same way he ousted Jarquin.
Vilma Nunez, director of the Centro Nicaraguense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH), warned that the attacks on the CGR send negative signals about Nicaragua abroad. The image, she said, was that of a president "who is allergic to any mechanism of control over his actions."
Other commentators have warned that the image of uncontrolled corruption could hurt Nicaragua's chances for international aid and debt relief. [Sources: El Nuevo Herald El Nuevo Herald is a McClatchy newspaper published daily in Spanish in Miami, Florida, in the United States. The Herald's sister paper is The Miami Herald, also produced by the McClatchy Company. (Miami), 04/18/01; El Nuevo Diario (Nicaragua), 04/16/01, 04/22/01, 04/29/01, 05/04/01; Notimex, 04/16/01, 05/15/01; La Prensa (Nicaragua), 04/17/01, 04/28/01, 05/15/01]