Almost immediately after President Ivan Duque announced a Chinese consortium would construct Bogota’s metro system, the comptroller general’s office said it may suspend the project over corruption fears.
According to Bogota’s comptroller, Martha Angelica Martinez, Duque and Bogota Mayor Enrique Peñalosa announced the concession before the deadline and without warning. Martinez learned about the decision through the media.
“We knew this had a deadline of October 21 and on Wednesday at the meeting we were told that it could possibly be moved forward, but we had no knowledge that it would be done this way,” Bogota’s comptroller told RCN on Friday.
According to Martinez, her office immediately began an investigation about the surprise announcement and warned she may shut down the project if she finds irregularities other than the authorities’ failure to inform the watchdog.
Public television network Noticias Uno reported on Sunday that there exists no record of the decision making process ahead of the concession and no witnesses were present when Bogota Metro signed the deal with consortium APCA Transmimetro.
Vice-Comptroller General also announced an investigation, claiming that “they moved the time frame forward, which obviously forces us to investigate.”
Local media reiterated that companies in the consortium are embroiled in bribery investigations in Africa, Asia and Sweden.
The World Bank debarred the sister companies of multiple of the main partner of the consortium, China Harbour Engineering, to take part in concessions sponsored by the bank in June over irregularities in the bidding process of a major road project in Georgia.
Peñalosa defended his decision, claiming that it was clear APCA would win the concession since October 3, the first day of the bidding process because the consortium scored an outstanding 100/100 in his administration’s assessment of the bids.
“Anyone with a calculator could have figured this out three minutes after the proposals were made public,” said Peñalosa.
Those with the most powerful calculators in Colombia, the investigators of the Comptroller General’s Office, are now investigating whether Peñalosa incurred in corruption.