Spanish version

GOVERNMENT

Economic damage to the state in Cobranzas case estimated at $23 million

That estimate is included in an audit of the contract between the company and the state.

It is part of the criminal investigation into the matter.

Spanish version

Temas:

Luis Cucalón, the former director of the General Revenue Department, has denied any wrongdoing in the case involving Cobranzas del Istmo, a company he hired to collect delinquent taxes owed to the agency.

He was questioned May 25 by prosecutor Ruth Morcillo. His answers were described as "elusive," and he denied any responsibility for overcharges.

A report prepared by the Internal Control Unit of the Ministry of Economy and Finance has estimated the damage to the state from the contract at more than $23 million. The company was paid commissions, but the audit found that it charged a higher rate of commission in some instances, and collected commissions to which it was not entitled in other instances.

It also said that it was not able to track all the payments, thus the number could be higher.

Cobranzas collected $47.1 million.

When asked about this report, Cucalon replied: "It makes no sense."

He explained that the payments were endorsed by the comptroller, and were calculated by the agency's Accounting Department. He also alleged that the report overestimated the amount paid to Cobranzas by $8 million, saying it only received $39 million.

Cucalón has been accused by Cobranzas officials of taking almost $6 million in kickbacks. The company apparently used a corporation based in the British Virgin Islands to mask the transactions.

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