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BCR President To Resign Over Clash With Board of Directors

Mario Rivera (left), former general manager of the BCR, and Alberto Raven, BCR’s Board Member, appeared on Wednesday night before the legislative commission on income and public expenditues. ( Julieth Méndez)

Q COSTA RICA – A bomb threat that led to the evacuation of the Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) central offices in downtown San Jose, delayed the resigning on Wednesday of the bank’s president, Paola Mora Tumminelli.

Mora is expected to tender her resignation to the Board of Directors this Thursday morning at a special board meeting.

Mora told legislators of the Commission of Control of Income and Public Expenditures on Wednesday night she had intended to quit Wednesday morning, explaining that in the last few weeks she had not felt comfortable working with other members of the bank’s Board, mainly due to difference with Francisco Molina, Mónica Segnini, Evita Arguedas and Alberto Raven, over the issue of a US$20 million loan to Sinocem to finance a cement import project in China.

Mora told legislators that despite her stepping down as President, she will remain on the bank’s Board, made up of seven members, although feeling pressured by other members to resign.

At root of her decision is the controversy over the credit for the import of Chinese cement given that Mora had had several meetings, including in private outside the bank, with the customer who received the credit, Juan Carlos Bolaños.

In addition, the bank president explained the existence on an audio of an alleged conversation between Guillermo Quesada, vice-president of the BCR and Bolaños, in which the latter allegedly tried to devise a way not to repay the loan.

Quesada was present during at the legislative commission hearing but did not deny nor confirm the veracity of the audio, only to say he had already handed over the audio to judicial authorities for an investigation.

Whatever is going in behind the doors of the BCR’s administration and Board, the bank president was clear that she could not continue in her post given facts surrounding the case and since her meetings Bolaños, of allegations of an “improper relationship” with the Chinese cement importer, including allegations of an affair, and questioned as to how she obtained the vehicle she is driving.

Aarón Sequeira, in his report in La Nacion filed at the end of the legislative commission hearing, said that commission legislators were little interested in the cement loan, rather their focus was on the loan given to the Cooperativa de Electrificación de San Carlos (Coopelesca).

With respect to Coopelesca, legislators questioned the relationship of law firm Alberto Raven is a partner and the San Carlos Electrification Cooperative.

PUSC legislator Luis Vásquez revealed to the commission that the law firm Zucher, Raven and Odio also represented Coopelesca, in the purchase of the Aguas Zarcas plant from Holcim Costa Rica.

Other legislators such as Julio Rojas (PLN) and Patricia Mora (Frente Amplio) criticized Alberto Raven because he was Holcim’s attorney and the director of the BCR when a loan for US$32.7 million was granted to Coopelesca to acquire the Holcim plant.

Raven assures another lawyer from the firm represented Holcim in the sale of the plant.

PAC legislator Ottón Solís piped in saying the sale of the Aguas Zarcas plant was an excellent deal for Holcim, selling a project valued at US$4 million dollars for US$35 million.

Meanwhile, the other State bank, the smallest of the four, Bancredito on Wednesday announced it will be closing its doors as a commercial bank on July 14, when it becomes an institutional bank. See our report here.

BTW, as to the bomb threat,it was found to be a hoax.