Charges that fugitive American financier Robert Vesco largely financed the 1974 political campaign of Costa Rica's president have triggered a major political crisis in that Central American country.
The allegations were made by former President Jose Figueres against his successor, Daniel Oduber, a member of Figueres' National Liberation Party.
On Wednesday all 27 members of the party in the Legislative Assembly signed a petition urging Vesco to leave the country.
The next day, Rodrigo Carazo, the major opposition candidate for president in the February, 1978, presidential election asked that the government file criminal charge against Oduber.
Figueres made the charges against Vesco in an interview in the April 23 issue of The Republic magazine. The furor erupted when a traslation of the interview with the magazine's politics editor, Ken Bode, appeared in Costa Rican newspapers, according to informants in San Jose.
The Costa Rican constitution prohibits foreign contributions to election campaigns.
Figueres was quoted as saying that Vesco had financed "a large part" of President Oduber's campaign. Moreover, Figueres charged that "there is a great deal of corruption" in the Costa Rican government.
Last week, Vesco issued a statement that said: "I have not made a contribution to any political party in Costa Rica."
He added: "It should be obvious with all the Watergate problems surrounding an alleged contribution to the Nixon presidential campaign that I would not do anything to start a recurrence of such a scandal."
In 1972, Vesco was indicted by a federal grand jury in New York for making a secret $200,000 cash contribution toward President Nixon's reebution toward President Nixon's re-was seeking to quash a U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission allegation he had looted $224 million in assets from Swiss-based Investors Overseas Services, ltd.
Vesco did not show up for the trial, and has remained abroad ever since, first in the Bahamas and then Costa Rica. His codefendants, former Attorney General John Mitchell and former Commerce Secretary Maurice Stans, were acquitted of the charges in 1974.
Soon after the Figueres's allegation, Oduber admitted that the party had received money from a company run by the Figueres family. He said that once he learned that the company was controlled by Vesco interests, he returned the money. He said he could not remember the name of the company.
In the most recent issue of new Republic, dated May 28, Oduber lays the blame for the recent scandal on Figueres because of his close financial ties to Vesco.
Referring to Figures by his nickname, "Don Pepe," Oduber said: "Do Pepe's decision to enter into a business venture with Mr. Vesco created problems for him, for the Vesco group and for the country."
Vesco become eligible for Costa Rican citizenship this month. If it is granted, which now seems questionable, he could not be extradited from that country. There is no indication that U. S. authorities have made and recent attempts to get the fugitive back in the United States for trial.
In another Vesco-related development yesterday, the Supreme Court of Ontario ordered that $123.8 million that Vesco looted from IOS - and which was recovered - be distributed to the stockholders of four IOS mutual funds.
The money had been seized by authorities from the Bahamas Commonwealth Bank in Nassau, which was controlled by Vesco. The money was recovered by court-appointed liquidators of International Investment Trust, Fund of Funds, IOS Growth Fund, and Venture Fund (International) N. V.