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Ecuador: Cofiec Banking Loan Irregularities Unleash Outrage

Antonio Buñay, former executive chief of Cofiec Bank – a state owned bank- and the alleged responsible person for the Cofiec case, which is causing stir in the Ecuador legal system and among citizens, appeared before the prosecutor's office on October 16, 2012. The #CofiecCase [es], as Ecuadorian Twitter users have named it, was uncovered after irregularities were found in a Cofiec banking loan for US$800,000 granted to the Argentinian investor Gastón Duzac [es].

The loan given to Duzac on December 2011 expired on August this year. However, the loan was granted although Duzac didn't meet [es] the respective requirements. As a result of this failure to comply with the Ecuadorian State, some civil servants, who authorized the loan, are being investigated.

Cofiec [es] (Ecuadorian Financial Corporation) was founded in the 70s by Antonio Correa Escobar in order to create a financial corporation. In those days, Cofiec Bank had the ability to loan money, as well as the authorization to take part in venture capital. After the Ecuadorian banking crisis in 1999, Cofiec Bank passed to Banco Progreso's owner, and it was later financed by the State through Ecuador's Deposit Insurance Agency (AGD), an autonomous entity led by the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Buñay has been accused of granting the loan to Duzac with warranty in sales of goods belonging to AGD owned companies [es]. Rumours are surrounding Pedro Delgado [es], the president of the Central Bank and cousin of the current president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa. Delgado reportedly put pressure on Buñay [es] to grant the loan to an “alleged group of Argentinian investors” represented by Duzac.

Carolina Martínez (@scaromartinez) [es] reacts with the following comment:

@scaromartinez: Dicen que #Duzac es inversionista … Q diablos vino a hacer a Ecu. Préstamo de dinero y Garantías de Estado. #PaisDeManuelito

@scaromartinez: It is said that #Duzac is an investor… What the hell is he doing in Ecuador? Money loan and State guarantees. #PaisDeManuelito

Monica Mier Vielma (@monicamier) [es] states:

@monicamier: Las preguntas que realiza Dalo Bucaram [asambleísta del Partido Roldosista Ecuatoriano (PRE)] en #CasoCofiec envidencian que las versiones de PDelgado en CNN y ABuñay en Comisión, se contradicen.

@monicamier: The questions asked by Dalo Bucaram [assembly member of the Ecuadorian Roldosist Party (PRE)] in #CofiecCase make clear that the statements made by Pedro Delgado on CNN and Abuñay in the Commission are contradictory.

Janet Hinostroza ‏(@janethinostroza) [es] highlights the weakness of Buñay's statements:

@janethinostroza: “@elcomerciocom: Buñay dice que debía darse el crédito a Duzac siempre y cuando se completara la documentación/y xk lo autorizo? #casoCofiec

@janethinostroza:@elcomerciocom: Buñay says that the loan should have been granted to Duzac only if all the documents were submitted. Why was he granted the loan then? #casoCofiec

@basoledispa [es] remarks how Buñay avoids to answer:

@basoledispa: #CasoCofiec Ahora todas las respuestas de Buñay son “desconozco” Vía @sanayalas //Se veía venir q por ahí era la cosa…ahora no sabe nada!

@basoledispa: #CasoCofiec Now all he says is: “I don't know” via @sanayalas// We could see that coming…now he knows nothing!

The external influence for granting the loan is still in doubt, as Edmundo Vera R. (@edverar) [es] points out:

@edverar: Y se presentó a declarar #Bunay sobre su actuación en el crédito a#Duzac. Algo que Sí le creo es que el Directorio le ordenó aprobarlo.

@edverar: #Bunay was summoned to declare about his involvement on the loan to #Duzac. I DO believe that the board of directors made him approve it.

Fernando Rosero ‏(@FernandoRoseroR) [es] writes the following:

@FernandoRoseroR: Al fin alguien dijo lo que nadie se atrevia: “El credito a #duzaces vinculado y su otorgamiento configura el delito de PECULADO BANCARIO”.

@FernandoRoseroR: Finally someone said what nobody dared to: #duzac‘s credit is binding and its granting means EMBEZZLEMENT.

However, Nataly Morillo (@titamorillo) [es] put this statement out:

@titamorillo#Buñay asegura que no tuvo presiones para otorgar préstamo a#Cofiec

@titamorillo: #Buñay assures that he wasn't pressured in order to authorize the loan to #Cofiec

Ecuadorians are struck by the fact that Duzac was given the loan so easily, while Hundreds of farmers have to wait months to be granted credits. Martha Roldós (‏@martharoldos) [es] and Galo Lara Y. (@GaloLaraY) [es] state:

@martharoldos: En Yaguachi se quejaba dueño d una piladora d q estuvo como 1 año tras d un crédito d US$10,000 poniendola como garantia y nada. #Duzac

@martharoldos: The owner of a rice warehouse in Yaguachi complained that, after a year, he was denied a US$10,000 loan, although he left the warehouse as guarantee. #Duzac

@GaloLaraY: A #Duzac le dieron 800mil dolares sin presentar garantias? cuánto le prestan a los ecuatorianos la banca estatal….

@GaloLaraY: US$800,00O dollars for #Duzac without a guarantee? How much does the state bank lend to Ecuadorians?

Some Twitter users, like Carlos Vera (@CarlosVerareal) [es], shared links to recordings obtained through some national newspapers:

@CarlosVerareal: AUDIO de Grabación de APROBACIÓN de CREDITO a #Duzachttp://bit.ly/AUDIODuzac Vía @elcomerciocom //Y ahora? Yo no fui?

@CarlosVerareal:RECORDING AUDIO of LOAN APPROVAL #Duzac http://bit.ly/AUDIODuzac Vía @elcomerciocom//What now? It wasn't me?

Finally, the well-known reporter Janeth Hirostronza ‏(@janethinostroza) [es] stated:

@janethinostroza: Las cosas caen por su propio peso…#casoCofiec

@janethinostroza: Sooner or later, the truth will be revealed #casoCofiec

This case, which is under investigation as of writing this post, will follow its due course in the Assembly's Audit Commission.

Thumbnail image via Shutterstock, copyright Boule.

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