Pablo Seitz, director of Public Procurement, told 650 AM radio that the VOX company is not part of the public procurement guidelines, so it is not required to make a public tender. However, he stated that an evaluation of the documents should be made in the case involving the brother-in-law of Mario Abdo Benítez in an agreement between Copaco and the Ministry of Health, exposed by the investigative program La Caja Negra.
“The possibility that Copaco has of using VOX to buy something must be subjected to an analysis of several aspects, including above all things Copaco’s budget, to know if Copaco is adequately using resources that were assigned to contract VOX or eventually contracting of goods and services through the Public Procurement Law”, he indicated.
Seitz said that he must analyze in depth to see if an investigation is warranted in the VOX-COPACO case with Public Health and Marito’s brother-in-law. “VOX is outside of Public Procurement, but categorically a public procurement system cannot be bypassed through a corporate figure that is not governed by the system. What we have to verify is that this contracting by Copaco to VOX is authorized by the budget regulations that govern Copaco, ”he added.
At the height of the pandemic in Paraguay, COPACO signed a specific agreement with the Ministry of Public Health for the provision of the Contact Center service. As COPACO is subject to Law 2051 on Public Procurement, it used its telephone company VOX to subcontract (without bidding) the services of a technology firm, which is represented by the musician Flavio “Kike” Santander, who is the brother-in-law of President Mario Abdo Benítez. .
On February 5, 2020, when the country was waiting for the imminent entry of Covid-19 into our territory, an inter-institutional cooperation agreement was agreed between Copaco and the Ministry of Health. Then, a cooperation agreement was signed on October 6, 2020 by the president of Copaco, Sante Vallese, and the then Minister of Health, Julio Mazzoleni, in order to implement a Contact Center service for the Ministry of Health for eight months. Health, which required the tracing of people or contacts who have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus.
As agreed, COPACO was going to provide technical support for hardware and software for its equipment, to prevent Public Health from having to buy a license from a manufacturer. The contract was for an approximate amount of G. 5,852,001,600, of which the Ministry of Health had to give an advance of G. 3,239,376,300. This contract was opened and paid for per service used, from which it can be deduced that the call center service included 100 positions, whose unit cost was G. 7,315,200, giving a sum of G. 731,500,200, an amount that when multiplied for the eight months, gives the total amount of G. 5,852,001,600.
In its clauses, the express confidentiality of this agreement was established, either before, during or after its execution.
On the other hand, months before that agreement between Copaco and Salud, the company VOX signed a direct contract (without a tender) with the company BIZCOM SA It was on March 26, 2020, at the beginning of the sanitary quarantine, that the president of COPACO , Sante Vallese, representing Hola Paraguay SA (VOX), signed a contract with the company BIZCOM SA, of the Colombian musician Flavio “Kike” Santander, for the supply of technological solutions of the Simplifi brand, such as cloud services, call center, platform, among others.
Whoever appears as a representative of the company subcontracted by the Paraguayan State is nothing more and nothing less than a relative of the President of the Republic, Mario Abdo Benítez, since he is married to Adriana López Moreira, sister of his wife Silvana.
The contract between COPACO (through VOX) and the music producer close to the presidential family was also open regarding the amounts to be paid for the service. In an annex to the agreement, all prices subject to variation depending on use were set.
In one of its clauses, the agreement with Marito’s brother-in-law establishes that the contract will have an initial duration of 5 renewable years and in another it provides for the confidentiality of the agreement, under the risk that if it were published, civil actions could be taken and penalties.
THE ILLEGAL MOVE OF COPACO
The state telephone company COPACO cannot contract companies directly because it is subject to the Public Procurement Law, which is why it did not see a better way to circumvent controls by using its telecommunications company VOX to subcontract to the private firm BIZCOM.
What is striking about the outsourcing in favor of Marito’s brother-in-law is that COPACO has experience in providing the same contact center service to other public entities (such as UNA, ANDE, HACIENDA and IPS) and did not need to subcontract another company to provide the service in question. Therefore, one would think that he did not need to sign a contract, in the midst of a pandemic, with a company represented by the brother-in-law of the President of the Republic.