SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — Costa Rican investigators have accused former President Oscar Arias of malfeasance in relation to a gold mine permitted during his second administration.

Authorities say Arias signed a decree that cleared the way for the Crucitas gold mine in spite of a moratorium on gold mining put in place by the government of his predecessor Abel Pacheco.

The accusation was formally passed to the prosecutor's office Wednesday.

The mine never advanced beyond site clearing, but protected trees were cut. Later a Costa Rican court found that the permits for the mine were illegally granted and recommended an investigation of various officials, including Arias.

Last year, Arias said he would cooperate with the investigation and maintained his innocence.