Recope's Moín project halted, facing corruption claims

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Costa Rican state refiner Recope's headquarters in San José were raided by authorities Tuesday (Jul 2) amid claims of corruption at the Moín refinery expansion, leaving the US$1.5bn project in limbo.

"The cause of the search deals with alleged payments made by Recope to employees of the company Soresco as well as the flow of money used to pay for the feasibility study," Costa Rica's public prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Soresco is a JV between Recope and Chinese national oil company CNCP created to develop the project.

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According to the public prosecutor, possible crimes in the case include the signing of illegal agreements, misuse of public funds and crimes against the national treasury, although specific charges have yet to be filed.

In a statement, Recope said it was complying with authorities and made all company information on the project available to investigators.

Costa Rica's minister of environment and energy, René Castro Salazar, denied in a statement the alleged corruption and said he and all public officials are being transparent about the project. The entire statement, with explanations of the payments in question, can be read in Spanish here

The Moín refinery project was already in doubt before the raid, after the feasibility study was invalidated June 20 by the state comptroller for having been performed by a CNCP subsidiary.

No estimates have been given about a timeline for the investigation or next steps for the project.