Colombian senator investigated over alleged drug money laundering ties

Colombia’s Supreme Court opened an investigation a senator on Thursday over allegations of money laundering.

According to Colombia’s financial crime agency, officials are now investigating coalition U Party member and former president of the Senate Dilian Francis Toro on charges that her family business, Agropecuaria Ceiba Verde Ltda., transferred almost $170 thousand to a person identified as Hans Barney Salazar, who was sent to prison in 2005 for seven years on charges of money laundering.

Toro has promised to appear in court and respond to all charges.

“I have nothing to fear, I am going to respond, as I can demonstrate that all I have I earned in an honest fashion,” the ex-president of the Congress responded, adding that all of her past financial transactions had been reviewed by the authorities.

The court also opened preliminary investigations of Toro’s supposed links to paramilitary organizations in the southwest department of Cauca, which she currently represents.

Ex-narcotics trafficker Luis Hernando Gomez Bustamante, alias “Rasguno,” recently told authorities that he had given $170 thousand to Toro’s 2002 campaign.

According to Rasguno, Toro received the money through Cartago Ariel Rodriguez, known in the narcotics world as “el Flaco” or “el Fiablo,” the husband of ex-representative of the House Maria Nancy Montoya, whom Rasguno also claims to have supported.

The Supreme Court’s statement on Thursday did not mention the statements of any one specific paramilitary organization or drug dealers as the cause of the investigation.

Toro was first linked to paramilitary groups in July 2008 as part of an informal list of senators implicated in the country’s “parapolitica” scandal. She was elected to the senate in 2002 and received the most votes of any senator in the 2006 elections. She has been accused in the past of links with a number of drug dealers who pressured citizens in Cauca to vote in her favor.

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