Santos’ election fraud probe: ‘the disaster scenario is that’ Colombia’s ‘establishment goes down’

Weekly Semana has published wiretap extracts that clarify how the 2014 re-election campaign of Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos allegedly received illegal campaign funding.

What is curious is that the corruption-riddled prosecution has so far failed to interrogate the two key witnesses who would be able to confirm the alleged funneling of illegal funds from banking giant Grupo Aval and Brazilian engineering firm to the Liberal Party.

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How the money was allegedly funneled

Andres Sanmiguel (Image: Prosecutor General’s Office)

The prosecution is investigating the alleged funneling of almost $1.5 million (COP3900 million) from the consortium constructing the Ruta del Sol II project to the liberal party that supported Santos’ campaign.

This money of Grupo Aval and Odebrecht would have been sent to a company called Gistic Logistics on July 9, 2014, three weeks after the second round of elections, the co-director of this company, Andres Sanmiguel, confirmed to prosecutors.

Sanmiguel testified in July last year that his business partner David Portilla asked him to withdraw the money and give it  to Esteban Moreno, a businessmen who was reportedly involved in Santos’ re-election campaign in the Valle del Cauca province.

According to Sanmiguel, Moreno told him the money was meant for “people of the Liberal Party,” in particular Simon Gaviria, to cover a campaign deficit.

‘Everyone’s fucked’

Esteban Moreno (Image: El Heraldo)

Semana additionally released the extracts of the wiretaps in which Moreno told Sanmiguel that “everyone’s fucked.”

When these wiretaps were recorded is unclear. The suspects are on tape talking about the possible election of Nestor Humberto Martinez, the former Grupo Aval attorney who became Prosecutor General in mid 2016 but didn’t open an investigation until after December 2016.

In the wiretaps, the businessmen additionally implicate not just Grupo Aval CEO Luis Carlos Sarmiento, but also a businessman with the same last name as Carlos Ardila, the boss of media empire RCN and soft drink company Postobon.

The disaster scenario (is) that they are caught and all are called [to testify] and the country goes on fire. I tell you one thing, if the president goes down, the prosecutor goes down, the candidacy of [Vice-President German] Vargas (and) the country’s establishment go down.

Esteban Moreno

The key suspect the prosecution won’t interrogate

Cesar (L) and Simon Gaviria. (Image: Flickr)

Despite his alleged key role in funneling the money from Sanmiguel to the Liberal Party, Moreno has yet to be heard by the prosecution, whose investigation has been riddled with irregularities.

Sanmiguel’s business partner, David Portilla, who allegedly set up the deal with Grupo Aval and Odebrecht, also has yet to be heard.

Senator Armando Benedetti, who has been following the case, said last week that Moreno “is the one who has the keys to everything. If Moreno corroborates what they are saying the country’s institutions come tumbling down.”

So far, the prosecution has prevented exactly that.

Moreno, Portilla and Sanmiguel were supposed to be heard last week, but the hearing was postponed.

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