Colombia investigates OAS for agricultural subsidies scandal

El Tiempo revealed Wednesday that the administration of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe asked the Organization of American States to suspend immunity for some of its staff, so they could be investigated for links to the agricultural subsidies (AIS) scandal.

According to El Tiempo, an investigation opened two weeks ago by the Colombian Comptoller General into the role of OAS body the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in the scandal. The investigators requested the lifting of immunity of high-ranking IICA officers.

This request was rejected by the IICA, which considered reducing its presence of 100 staff in the Andean nation, if Colombia were to press sanctions.

“Immunity is a ‘sine qua non’ condition for our presence in member states,” representatives of IICA told El Tiempo.

Colombian investigators accuse IICA staff of negligence in allowing the Colombian Ministry of Agriculture to allocate funds from the AIS program to wealthy landowners, when the scheme was designed to reduce inequality by distributing subsidies to small-scale farmers.

According to Colombian Comptroller General Julio Cesar Turbay, IICA staff members failed in their duty to analyze whether candidates proposed by the Colombian Ministry of Agriculture were eligible to receive the AIS subsidies.

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