Paraguay’s Senate set to investigate former Conajzar President over slot contract

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The Board of Directors of the Chamber of Senators of Paraguay has announced that José Antonio Ortiz, former President of Conajzar, the national gaming commission, will be subject to an investigation.

The interpellation is in connection with a contract between the regulatory body and the company iCrop SA, which is currently in control of monitoring slot machines in Paraguay.

It will be based on a complaint made by Senator Esperanza Martínez after she echoed statements made by previous president Javier Balbuena to the effect that the local regulator had outsourced control over the use of slot machines and that Conajzar had been “practically privatized”.

The contract between Conajzar and iCrop has been harshly criticized and questioned in recent weeks, having been signed off without undergoing the mandatory regulatory process. Ortiz, as the former president of Conajzar, has been accused of corruption for signing this contract during his mandate.

Furthermore, the Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez has also asked the National Anticorruption Secretariat (Senac) to investigate the contract. The Minister of the Secretariat René Fernández has already detailed that two information requests were issued to Conajzar without response.

Additionally, Fernández stressed that there has been a lack of transparency within the regulatory body, since it has failed to guarantee free access to documents on its website to local citizens.

Following these complaints, local media ABC estimated that “taking into account that the regulation comprises 50,000 slot machines, the company will receive more than $1.5m per month, while only $652,000 will go to the state.

In regards to the profits that the Conajzar redirects, Senator Martínez said: “It’s important to remember that the proceeds from Conajzar are sent to DIBEN to pay for medical resources during the pandemic. It’s essential to ensure compliance with the obligations and that the proceeds go to the right place.”