“I have a life and I refuse to continue speaking about the lies, the slander and the damage that one person and politics have caused.”
In this way, on August 31, the former mayor of Maipú, Cathy Barriga (Ind-UDI), publicly referred to the annoyance caused by the questioning on television about the two complaints filed against her by the current mayor of the municipality, Tomás Vodanovic (RD ), and accuses him of fraud against the Ministry of Finance.
However, the tension that the problem brings to the former dancer of the Mekano program is far from easing, as the State Ministry is preparing to present the application for formalization on one of the three grounds in which she is being investigated as a defendant. .
This is the investigation carried out by the Western Prosecutor José Solís based on a complaint lodged by the municipality of Maipú. This is in connection with a possible fraud against the Ministry of Finance by Barriga and five other former officials through payment for services not provided to a volunteer journalist.
In this investigation, prosecutors are investigating an alleged fraud of more than $95 million through the successive contract extensions and payment of fee invoices to also indicted Andrea Monsalve Saavedra for services she did not provide. Another precedent from the plaintiff company’s point of view is that the specialist continued to be paid his salary despite being on general sick leave for a period of more than three months.
The suspicion of the Ministry of State lies in why Barriga would have continued to pay these funds, considering that the journalist was not present at the municipality. It is suspected that it is a “ghost contract” that allows public funds to be misused.
In this case, prosecutor Solís has already received a statement from Barriga, as the defendant, in which he was asked about the reasons for not dismissing the professional.
The former mayor testified as a witness about three weeks ago, where she ruled out having benefited from maintaining the contract. Those who knew her defense explain that Barriga’s position is that she did not fire Monsalve not because they were friends or close, but because she had certain concerns about how she would react to this decision.
In addition, he explained to prosecutors that his decision was also based on the 2019 Supreme Court decision, which determined that civil servants hired on a fee basis are subject to the Labor Code, not the Administrative Code, and therefore cannot be fired.
However, his statement did not clarify the suspicions of the plaintiff company, which is preparing an application to the court to formalize the suspicion as quickly as possible.
This case of possible fraud against the Treasury is one of the three criminal investigations that Barriga is facing and could complicate the case in the medium term.
Another case that is in the final stages of background information collection concerns the auditor’s audit of the former mayor’s management.
In this report, the public prosecutor’s office made findings indicating irregularities in the granting of the benefit known as the “Golden Years Bonus”. This “incentive” involved paying financial compensation to those who left their jobs in the municipality, which is not regulated by the Administrative Code, so its application could mean further fraud on the state treasury.
The State Department is investigating the payout of $81 million in bonuses to at least 14 officials identified by the comptroller. However, sources in the case assure that the list could include more than 90 beneficiaries.
Those with knowledge of Barriga’s defense argue that the former mayor primarily wanted to reward older public employees for their work.
In this case, the Comptroller’s Office concluded in October 2022 that the problem is that “it is not appropriate to include a termination of services indemnification clause in a fee-for-service agreement.”
The public prosecutor’s office also managed to collect further information. The questions suggest why these officials were singled out to give them an unreasonable bonus. They compare this with statements from other city employees who were “harassed” by the management at the time in order to “force” them to resign if they did not comply with instructions within the legal norm.
In this case, too, the fence against Barriga is tightening, as the public prosecutor has again summoned her to testify as a defendant. His appearance will take place in the coming weeks.
With these two cases, the third investigation against him could also bring legal complications. This is the complaint that Mayor Vodanovic also filed for alleged fraud of more than $20 billion.
In this process he is being investigated for increasing the municipal budget without justification, without having signed certificates that would guarantee investments of large amounts. However, in this case it has not yet been cited, but the PDI has carried out a procedure to determine how Maipú funds were used, what mechanism was used to pass the inspection controls and how they were carried out.
The gaze of the Ministry of State is already on Barriga, as is the State Defense Council (CDE), since all the predecessors have already entered the “supervision phase”, a lower court to decide whether to file a lawsuit or not. a complaint against the former mayor of Maipú.