Adviser to Costa Rica's president resigns amid growing bribery scandal

SAN JOSE (Reuters) - A top adviser to Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado resigned on Monday after judicial officials said he was under investigation for his alleged role in a bribery scheme that has ensnared officials and top businessmen.

Camilo Saldarriaga, a 29-year-old economist who advises the president on infrastructure issues, is being investigated in connection with a scheme in which money, cars and sexual services were offered in exchange for lucrative road construction and maintenance contracts, Wálter Espinoza, director of the Judicial Investigation Agency, said in an online video statement.

Saldarriaga, who denies the accusations, said on Monday that he was leaving his post to dedicate himself to his defense.

"I can affirm that I have not committed any crime and that at no time have I received any type of benefit for my work," he said in a statement.

The scheme caused a $127 million deficit in the budget for road works from 2018 to 2020, Espinoza said.

Eighteen officials and 11 businessmen have already been arrested in connection with the bribery scandal, judicial sources say.

"I feel enormous indignation, frustration and anger at the acts of corruption in the public works contracts," Alvarado said on Monday on Facebook Live.

"This type of behavior is absolutely unacceptable."

(Reporting by Alvaro Murillo; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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