Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday acknowledged that his 2010 presidential campaign received “irregular funding” from Brazilian company Odebrecht but moved to dispel suggestions that he was aware it had happened.
Former Santos’ campaign manager, Roberto Prieto Uribe, claimed in an earlier interview with BluRadio that in 2010 the Brazilian company Odebrecht had financed the purchase of posters for the campaign.
The financing allegedly amounted to the provision of $400,000 to a vendor to print 2 million campaign posters during the campaign.
Santos denounced such payments that are illegal under Colombian law but reiterated that the revelations are also just coming as news to him.
“I did not authorize or have any knowledge of these efforts, which were done in direct violation of the ethical and control standards that I demanded to be imposed on the campaign,” the president said in a video posted on his Facebook and Twitter accounts following Prieto’s interview.
In his video Santos describes the situation as “embarrassing”, adding that “it should never have happened.” He has demanded that those involved clarify their actions as soon as possible.
“This violation of the norms of the campaign does not suppose, nor can it assume that corruption is derived from my government,” stated the President.
Condeno -de la manera más enfática- los hechos revelados alrededor de mi campaña del 2010. Pido a los involucrados asumir su responsabilidad pic.twitter.com/4fOSRVrUGp
— Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) March 14, 2017
Prieto confirmed in his interview that Santos was unaware of these irregular activities at the time saying, “it was an irregular operation and the campaign will accept that, but Juan Manuel Santos had nothing to do with it.”
The former campaign manager confirmed that Odebrecht made payments for the supply of nearly two million posters for the campaign through the company Impressa Group.
Prieto said that the deal with Odebrecht was”pre-arranged” by the campaign’s financial committee.
“I accept that I ordered the posters. But others got the money, I just carried out the operation and sent them the bill. I accept my guilt, but I was not the only one, other people received the money,” he revealed in his interview.
From 2001 to 2016, Odebrecht paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes in association with projects in 12 countries, including Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela, according to the U.S. charging papers.
The uncovered corruption includes an alleged $11.1 million in bribes in Colombia so far, with the legitimacy of Colombia’s politicians being brought into question.