The Judicial Investigations office said the scheme involved bonuses and improper payments to government workers sponsored by private construction firms, with bribes allegedly including cars, land and cash.

Police from the Judicial Investigation Agency raid the National Viability Council during an investigation into alleged acts of corruption in San Jose, Costa Rica, on June 14, 2021.
Police from the Judicial Investigation Agency raid the National Viability Council during an investigation into alleged acts of corruption in San Jose, Costa Rica, on June 14, 2021. (AFP)

Costa Rican investigators have carried out 57 raids, including on the office of President Carlos Alvarado Quesada, in a sweeping bid to dismantle an alleged bribery and kickback scheme involving construction companies and public works.

Twenty-eight people were detained on Monday, including the owners of at least two major construction firms.

Walter Espinoza with the Judicial Investigations office said the scheme involved bonuses and improper payments to government workers sponsored by private construction firms.

President Quesada said: "Like you, today I feel enormous indignation, annoyance, and anger in relation to acts of corruption with public works contracts."

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Fourteen government bureaus raided

The network allegedly embezzled some $125 million between 2018 and 2020, officials said.

Bribes for government employees from construction companies that routinely won bids allegedly included cars, land and cash.

Police raided 14 government bureaus, including the Casa Presidential and the Ministry of Public Works, as well as multiple private businesses and the homes of 21 people linked to the alleged network.

Some of those arrested worked for MECO SA, a major local construction firm with operations in Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, and Colombia.

MECO officials said in a statement that they will collaborate with prosecutors and provide all the required documents.

Also arrested were suspects linked to H. Solis, another well-known construction company.

A statement from the president's office said officials will cooperate with the probe. Agents remained at the Casa Presidencial searching for evidence for five hours.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies