Colombia’s Defense Minister requested Monday that an audit of the National Army be carried out by the impartial Comptroller General’s Office.
The request comes in the wake of a series of recordings published by the Semana magazine Sunday indicating that various high-level members of the Armed Forces embezzled millions in defense contracts, using some of the money to ensure the continued silence of soldiers convicted in relation to 2006’s “false positives” scandal.
Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzon has asked Army General Juan Pablo Rodriguez “to immediately solicit an intervention from the Comptroller General,” according to the Ministry of Defense website.
The audit will reportedly investigate the process used for defense contracting, whether supply was equal to demand, if there were instances of items being sold at favorable prices or of over expenditure.
According to Caracol Radio, any findings made during the audit will be made available to Pinzon as well as President Santos, as the level of corruption indicated by the Semana article could be a “matter of national security.”
In the statement released earlier Monday, the Ministry of Defense claims it will maintain a policy of “zero tolerance with corruption.” Investigators reportedly began reviewing tapes released by Semana as soon as the news was broke. Of the 19 recordings, only 10 were deemed viable for building a case and only three included the direct use of names and discussion of illegal activity, according to the statement.
The tapes seem to link a number of high-ranking military officials with the widespread embezzlement of defense contracts. Some of the stolen money was allegedly directed to the families of soldiers convicted of “false positives,” a practice in which members of the military murdered at least 5,000 civilians and dressed their bodies as rebel militants, in exchange for bonuses and paid vacations.
So far, one general implicated in the recordings has resigned. Another, the Army’s Commander General, has professed his innocence, despite being featured in conversations held on the recordings.
No date has been confirmed as to when the audit will take place, and the Ministry of Defense has declined to take any disciplinary actions until investigations by the Prosecutor and Inspector Generals’ Offices can be carried out.
- Contraloría activó unidad especial para verificar contratación de Ejército (Caracol Radio)
- Declaraciones del Ministerio de Defensa (Ministry of Defense)