Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Jose Maria Figueres will attend panel discussion in Phoenix

Former president is facing questionings in Costa Rica for a 1997 contract with Alcatel

By Uri Ridelman

Former Costa Rican president Jose Maria Figueres Olsen, who has repeatedly refused to return to his country to testify in an investigation for corruption charges during his administration, will be in the Phoenix area Friday for a discussion of foreign direct investment in developing countries.

Craig Barrett, current chairman of Intel will join Figueres at Thunderbird, the Garvin School of International Management.

Barrett and Figueres were key players in the 1997 contract that brought a $300 million semiconductor assembly and test plant to Costa Rica that is responsible for a shift in the country's top exports, from coffee and bananas to electric and electronic products. The industry now employs 12,000 and exports US$1.65 billion in products a year.

Figueres will make a presentation on "Building Competitive Advantages in Nations: Strategic Investment in Education and Technology."

Figueres resigned as director-general of the Geneva-based World Economic Forum after the questionings on the contract between Alcatel and the government broke out.

Investigations have revealed that Figueres had allegedly received close to 400 million colones, almost $1 million at the time of the deal, from Alcatel after leaving office.

Figueres is facing questionings in his country for a job checking technical details of an offer of mobile communications technology from Alcatel for which he received nearly $906,000. The secretary of his party received a similar amount for checking orthographic mistakes on the document of the contract

He is currently living Europe. Despite numerous requests from a a legislative committee to come home and explain the reasons for the compensation, Figueres refused to comply, and in a note to Congress insisted the payments were remuneration for the legal consultation he provided the French company.

Information from newswires was used to write this article. Figueres background material obtained from Wikipedia and the Tico Times Online.

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