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Judge Filed Corruption Case: High ranking Uruguayan politicians accused of fraud, extortion and bribes were acquitted and the case was closed.

Mariano Arana (left) and Maria Julia Muñoz (right) no longer risk prison accused of corruption,after being acquitted by the uruguayan Judge.

 

Judge Fanny Canessa decided today to file the request of the state prosecution process for the imprisonment of Mariano Arana, Maria Julia Munoz and Alberto Rosselli for their  alleged responsibility in the municipal casinos maneuvers. In this case the only one who served jail time was the former director of Casinos the Municipality of Montevideo (IMM) Juan Carlos Bengoa, which regained its freedom after years of imprisonment.

The judge understood that there was insufficient grounds to give the order for the imprisonment of the three persons accused,  and decided to file the case.

Previous to the Judge final decission, the state prosecutor had submitted the accusation document of more than 100 pages where he accused of fraud, extortion (bribe) and abuse of functions to Mariano Arana (former city major), Muñoz (former Secretary General) and Rosselli (former Director of Economic Development of Montevideo IMM).

In December 2007 the former director Juan Carlos Bengoa casino was prosecuted for this cause. The judge Fanny Canessa  understood that Bengoa  conducted maneuvers that caused millions in losses to the state .

DETAILS ABOUT THE  FILED ACCUSATION.-

Months ago, state prosecutors in Uruguay asked Judge Canessa for prison prosecutions against leftist politicians Mariano Arana, Maria Julia Munoz and Alberto Rosselli for their part in maneuvers by local casinos. They were accused of fraud, extortion (bribes) and abuse of power.

This new development was one of the final steps in a long criminal investigation against important politicians of the Frente Amplio. After almost four years of processing the former director of the Casinos of the Municipality of Montevideo (IMM), Juan Carlos Bengoa, the state prosecutor Diego Perez concluded that senior officials of the municipality in 2000-2005 should also be held responsible and prosecuted.

The prosecutor, in an document of more than 100 pages presented yesterday before Judge Fanny Canessa, demanded prison time for ex Governor of Montevideo (capital of Uruguay) Mariano Arana, former general secretary of the Montevideo municipality  María Julia Muñoz, and former municipality Director of Economic Development Alberto Rosselli .

Based on his criminal investigation, the prosecutor said the former three top politicians in Montevideo were accused of fraud, ongoing extortion, receiving bribes and ongoing abuse of office.

Mariano Arana, socialist leader of the Frente Amplio and former Governor of Montevideo accused of fraud, extortion and bribery, was acquitted and the case closed.

One of the accused, Arq. Mariano Arana, served (2005-2010) as Minister of Housing, while Maria Julia Muñoz served as Minister of Public Health in the same  government.

In the 2009 elections, Arana was fourth on the Senate list within a sector of the Frente Amplio sector, but was not elected. Munoz was the third candidate for Senate of another sector within the same Frente Amplio but also not elected.

In December 2007, when irregularities in the local casinos administered by the leftist government were proven, the Judge indicted former municipal casinos unit director Juan Carlos Bengoa, who at the time of trial was serving as national director of Casinos, a unit of the Ministry of Economy, then under the command of the current vice president Danilo Astori.

Along with Bengoa two of his advisers, a businessman who rented the IMM slots and a city official, also went to prison.

During the investigation it was proven that the Bengoa management of  the Casinos Division changed its strategy and started to lease  slot machines instead of buying them.

That led to the signing of contracts that caused important economic losses to the Montevideo municipality. During the investigation, it was also determined that people related to Bengoa and the other defendants worked for tenant companies leasing slots.

Initially, the Uruguayan Justice Dept only accused the former director of IMM Casinos,  Mr. Bengoa, who was charged and imprisoned for fraud, extortion and conflict of interest between the public and private sectors.

However, Bengoa maintained he was not alone in this scheme.  He accused ex City Major Arana, the former general secretary Maria Julia Muñoz  and former director of  Economic Development Mr. Rosselli.

Bengoa accused all three of being fully aware of all decisions made regarding the casinos and slot machines.

As a result, in early 2009 and mid 2010 Bengoa, Arana Munoz and Rosselli were subjected to cross-examination, where the ex Major Arana, as well as the former general secretary Muñoz and former director of Economic Development explain themselves.

Claims that the alleged trio Arana – Munoz – Rosselli were aware of illegal casino operations of the Administration have been a cornerstone of the defense for Bengoa, who was released in March 2010 after spending 27 months imprisoned in the Police Central Jail.

Bengoa’s lawyers Victor Della Valle and Alejandro Balbi in late June said that “there was no deception of  Arana, Muñoz and Rosselli, that all three knew by heart all resolutions and endorsed by their signatures all acts and contracts”.

They added that “no chief can be considered fooled by all the evidence filed at the request of the Attorney General himself.”

Finally, Judge Fanny Canessa decided to close the case.