Congress commission detects irregularities in payments to port workers

Thursday, December 22, 2005

An investigative committee from Chile's lower house has detected "serious" irregularities in benefit payments provided to port workers for a total amount of 2bn pesos (US$3.9mn), local press reported.

After studying the case for three years, the committee found 53 workers received extra payments as part of a work-training program who did not fulfill the necessary requirements such as having 15 years of experience in the port sector and being at least 40 years old, investigative committee president Rosa González said at the report presentation.

The investigation also found documentation of workers agreements that were signed by a person that was not present in the country during the signing date, González said.

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Although press say that the irregularities happened during the period that private port administrators took control of the ports, no further information was provided, such as the name of the concessionaires involved.

However, González did name the administration of Chile's Region I Iquique port, which "granted benefits to workers in conditions that are not in accordance with the seriousness that public resources must be administered."

As a result of the irregularities detected, the commission will ask the country's comptroller general and the state defense council (CDE) to carry on further investigations, Gónzalez said.