Colombia’s chief prosecutor to charge comptroller amid mutual corruption allegations

Sandra Morelli (L) and Eduardo Montealegre

Colombia’s Prosecutor General on Friday announced to file criminal charges against the Comptroller General who has led investigations about payments received by the chief prosecutor by a controversial health insurance provider.

The move is the last in an ongoing series of corruption accusations between Comptroller General Sandra Morelli and Prosecutor General Eduardo Montealegre.

According to Morelli, the current prosecutor general continued to receive money from SaludCoop, a so-called EPS that was repossessed by the government in 2011 after media and authorities found out it had embezzled millions of dollars meant to pay its clients’ healthcare and had spent health funds to build golf courses abroad.

Additionally, the company was accused of constructing its own medical centers while the purpose of the health insurance companies was to finance hospitals, not to compete with them. To make matters worse, opposition Senator Jorge Enrique Robledo (Democratic Police) revealed the company had been charging too much for medication and treatments.

Montealegre was the health insurer’s legal adviser during the time the company was carrying out all kinds of alleged illegal activity. Morelli convicted SaludCoop for fraud in 2013, two years after the government took control of the company.

MORE: Comptroller convicts Colombia’s once-biggest health intermediary of fraud

The Comptroller General has accused Montealegre of continuing to receive money from the company that defrauded millions of Colombians after taking office as prosecutor general in 2011 and after the company got in legal trouble over its financial malfeasance.

Montealegre is not the only prominent Colombian in trouble over the allegedly corrupt EPS; The Comptroller General. According to press reports, the wife of former Finance Minister Sergio Diaz-Granados was on the payroll of the disgraced company.

The prosecutor general in turn accused Morelli of corruption, claiming there had been irregularities when the Comptroller General’s Office purchased a new main office for the country’s main financial watchdog.

These alleged irregularities will now become criminal charges.

However, Morelli hit back immediately and recused deputy Prosecutor General and his team for bias and illegally leaking classified documents related to the case to the media.

The comptroller general has accused Montealegre of trumping up charges against her to divert attention from his own involvement in the SaludCoop scandal.

“If the prosecutor general could, he would have me killed, or do it himself,” said Morelli in Congress on Wednesday.

SaludCoop is one of dozens of Colombian health insurance companies investigated for defrauding clients and embezzling billions of dollars in health care funds and failing to pay hospitals which had pushed dozens of hospitals throughout the country to the verge of bankruptcy.

MORE: More than $5B has been embezzled from Colombian healthcare


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