Bogota mayoral candidate Clara Lopez has denied knowledge of a $500M embezzlement scandal that took place while she was the chief of staff of the Colombian capital’s former mayor, the now jailed Samuel Moreno.
Weekly Semana got its hand on testimonies given by Lopez during an Inspector General investigation of the corruption by construction companies, public officials and allegedly Moreno, a member of the same party as Lopez and her direct superior at the time of the embezzlement practices.
The current candidate for the leftist Democratic Pole denied allegations that she attended a meeting where contracts over public transportation works — later found to be part of an elaborate kickback scandal — were finalized, according to Semana.
Lopez additionally claimed no knowledge of the participation in said meetings of former Mayor Samuel Moreno who she replaced for three months after he was sent to jail while awaiting trial.
The former mayor is accused specifically for having “direct and illegal interests” contributing to the embezzlement of half a billion dollars of public funds, discovered in 2010 after the investigation into unreasonable delays in public transportation works.
Moreno’s brother, former Senator Ivan Moreno, was sentenced to prison for his role in the scandal.
The Inspector General’s Office questioned Lopez’ alleged participation in two meetings held at the city hall in 2008, wherein the contracts were studied by lawyers and later finalized.
Lopez said she did enter one meeting, after she was alerted by union leaders that contracts may not protect the rights of workers. According to the candidate, Moreno referred her to lawyers after which she said she left the meeting.
Lopez disputed accusations that she attended a second meeting whereupon these contracts were finalized, reporting these claims to be false and requesting to see records.
In her race for the mayoral elections in Bogota on October 25, Lopez, has been subjected to accusations on social media over her involvement in the scandal while fellow politicians have questioned her integrity.
Centrist Green Alliance Senator Claudia Lopez claimed that “the big question is the guarantee of non-repetition of that which Clara Lopez has failed to respond.” The senator claims if Lopez indeed never “saw” what happened to Moreno could she be trusted to see what happens in the mayor’s office.