Senator banned from office for 12 years over public works irregularities

The inspector general has removed Colombian Senator Arbelaez Amparo Arbelaez Escalante from her position and banned her from state employment for 12 years following an investigation into her conduct as governor of Quindio in 2007.

The investigation revealed that Arbelaez Escalante had fast-tracked the development of a cable car system in the municipality of Buenavista, without completing the necessary preliminary studies and consultations. An agreement was reached with a contractor prior to a full investigation, which is a requirement for such a project.

It was also revealed that only one company was chosen for the construction of the cable car system and agreements were made in a short period of time. The Quindio governor did not allow the process to be scrutinized and competing bids were not considered for the project.

Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez, concluded that the proposal had been rushed through to garner public opinion and the appropriate steps were not taken in the consideration of the project.

As part of the same investigation, Luis Ernesto Gil Cardozo was removed from his position as Minister for Public Infrastructure and banned from public employment for 13 years. Patricia Garcia Liliana Forero, director of the legal and procurement department, was also removed and will be unable to hold public office for a period of 14 years.

Ordoñez explained that the punishment reflected serious professional negligence by all involved in granting the contract. He continued by explaining that the single serious fault, in failing to study the available evidence or consider rival offers, justified dismissal according to the terms of the disciplinary code of conduct.

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