Charges have officially been placed against the first five detainees in the health care scandal that has cost the Colombian state billions of dollars.
The Prosecutor General’s Office presented the charges to a judge on Tuesday. Colombian media reported that the suspects are accused of embezzlement of public funds, plotting criminal actions, bribery and illicit enrichment.
The prosecuting body argued for imprisonment of the five while the case progresses, due to the magnitude of the crimes committed and the possibility that, if left in liberty, the suspects could hinder the investigation process.
The first five suspects in a network that President Juan Manuel Santos has referred to as a “mafia” include two employees from the Ministry of Social Protection and three EPS, or insurance company, employees.
Although initial reports referred to a sixth detainee, he had to be released because there was no existing warrant for his arrest.
In respect to the scandal, on Wednesday Health Superintendent Conrado Adolfo Gomez dismissed Senator Jorge Enrique Robledo’s requests for him to resign from his post, reported Caracol Radio.
Gomez stated that despite professional and personal connections with insurance companies and the pharmaceutical sector, he is perfectly competent to continue in his position. He reminded the senator that the superintendency currently has 326 investigations pending against various EPS companies.
The judicial situation of the five suspects will be further defined later on Wednesday, and arrest warrants are still pending for 20 further suspects in the case.