SAN JOSE (Reuters) – Costa Rica’s Vice President Stephan Brunner said on Monday he had been charged for his alleged role in illicit financing during the electoral campaign of President Rodrigo Chaves, who took office this year.
Brunner, a 61-year-old economist who served as Chaves’ campaign treasurer, appeared on Monday before an opposition-backed special commission in Costa Rica’s Congress, which is investigating the alleged illegal contributions.
Brunner and Chaves have both previously maintained their innocence. The presidency declined to respond to Reuters’ request for comment on the congressional investigation.
Both Brunner and the president have immunity protections in office, though those powers could be suspended if requested by the Supreme Court and approved by 38 of Congress’ 57 seats. Chaves’ party only holds 10 seats in Congress.
“I am subject to a case in court as a defendant,” Brunner told deputies on Monday, explaining his decision not to testify in the congressional investigation.
Costa Rican prosecutors told Reuters that Brunner was under criminal investigation for illegally receiving private campaign contributions.
The congressional investigation is also looking into the financing of political parties, including Chaves’ Social Democratic Progress Party.
In June, Costa Rica’s elections court announced findings from probe into the campaign, which it said was backed by a “dark financing scheme” with money channeled from companies and foreigners through a private trust managed by now-Foreign Minister Arnoldo Andre.
(Reporting by Alvaro Murillo; Writing by Kylie Madry; Editing by Josie Kao)