Public utility company ETAPA is raided on fraud suspicions

May 13, 2017 | 4 comments

Cuenca’s largest public utility company is under investigation for fraud in the awarding of almost $18 million in contracts for waste water treatment plant. The Azuay prosecutor’s office raided the utility’s Cuenca offices Friday, looking for evidence in the case.

ETAPA headquarters on Calle Benigo Malo.

ETAPA, the acronym for La Empresa de Telecomunicaciones, Agua Potable y Alcantarillado, provides water and sewer services for more than 300,000 customers in the Cuenca metropolitan area, as well as a variety of telecommunications services, including internet.

According to the prosecutor’s office, several computers and more than a 30 document files were seized in the Friday morning raid. The raid was based on a complaint filed by Santiago Vásquez, director of the National Public Procurement Service, who alleges influence peddling and favoritism in the awarding of waste water construction contracts.

Vásquez’s complaint alleges that the cousin of a senior ETAPA official received seven personal contracts totaling $ 3.91 million, and four more through consortia of which he is a partner, for an additional $ 14.18 million.

The ETAPA official was not named.

Iván Palacios, ETAPA general manager, said he has received little information so far on the allegations. “The prosecutor has not provided a full explanation of the charges and I look forward to seeing them,” he said. “We intend to cooperate fully with the investigation.”

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