Former agricultural minister and pre-election candidate Andres Felipe Arias is receiving election campaign funding from businesses that benefited from agricultural subsidies under the AIS scheme, Semana reported Saturday.
Semana investigative journalist Daniel Coronell found evidence that Arias is getting campaign funding that he has not declared, which is illegal under Colombian law.
According to Coronell, Arias is “receiving donations through a foundation, created for the purpose [of hiding the source of funds]”. The source of the funds paid into the foundation is unclear.
Coronell also alleges that Arias is receiving personal checks from businesses funded by AIS subsidies.
The journalist cites as evidence personal checks made out to Arias by Claudia Martínez Valecilla, director of the the Mayaguez Group, which allegedly received 3 billion pesos from the AIS scheme while Arias was minister.
Arias is currently under investigation for corruption in the granting of agriculture subsidies under the Agro Ingreso Seguro (AIS) program.
Former Minister Arias as well as the current Agricultural Minister Andres Fernandez allegedly granted government agricultural funds to certain companies and affluent Colombian families, while the money was intended for poor farmers.
This new evidence supports remarks made to Colombia Reports by uribista Senator Armando Benedetti last October.
Benedetti denied media accusations that the AIS subsidies went to rich Colombian families in return for support for President Uribe’s re-election. Instead he claimed that it was support for Arias that was being bought.
Arias denied the claims on Monday, saying it is an attempt to defame him.
Pre-candidate presidential campaigns “can not receive help from corporations and are bound by the laws of the National Electoral Commission,” Araujo said.
He added that a private firm has been contracted to teach candidates how to manage election finances and funding limits.