A Costa Rica businessman was entrusted to oversee the transfer of millions of dollars of U.S. government funds, but stole the money for his personal use, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Mauricio Andulog Hidalgo, 43, was the president of SafetyPay-Central America and was a contractor for the U.S Department of State, according to U.S. Attorney Sherri A. Lydon “to handle the processing of visa application fees for the United States Embassy,” in Costa Rica.
Evidence presented at the plea hearing established that Hidalgo used his position to divert government funds from a SafetyPay bank account in Costa Rica, that was supposed to be transferred to a bank account maintained by the Department of State’s Global Financial Services Center in Charleston, South Carolina, to another Costa Rican account under his sole control.
SafetyPay-Central America had been hired as a subcontractor.
Hidalgo pleaded guilty to the charge theft of government funds on June 14. United States District Judge Patrick Michael Duffy, of Charleston, accepted the guilty plea and will impose sentence after he has reviewed the presentence report, which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.
Lydon stated the maximum penalty for Theft of Government Funds is imprisonment for 10 years and/or a fine of USD$250,000.