The alleged mastermind of Colombia’s tax embezzlement scandal, which cost the government billions of dollars, pleaded guilty to corruption charges Tuesday.
Blanca Jasmin Bercerra, who is accused of organizing the embezzlement scheme at DIAN, Colombia’s tax agency, plead guilty to corruption and conspiracy but contested charges of document falsification, procedural fraud, illicit enrichment, and money laundering.
By pleading guilty Bercerra’s sentence could be reduced by as much as 50%.
Thirteen other suspects have been arrested and the government has stated that it wishes to bring similar charges against all of them. Of the 13, one has pleaded guilty, while the rest contest all charges against them.
Bercerra is accused of abusing her position at DIAN to divert billions of dollars in public money to dummy companies through false tax refunds and then pocketing the money. The estimates of how much money was diverted have varied wildly, with initial estimates suggesting as much as $4.6 billion stolen every year for five years and more recent estimate suggesting only $2 billion stolen total.
Caracol Radio reported that false refunds were still being made to the dummy corporations despite the discovery of this scandal a week ago and its supposed termination in 2009.