Colombia’s Supreme Court will investigate one minister and 11 governors after the prosecution opened more than 1,200 investigations into alleged corruption with coronavirus emergency funds.
The Prosecutor General’s Office, the Inspector General’s Office and the Comptroller’s Office have been hit by a tsunami of corruption reports over alleged attempts to embezzle government aid.
The three bodies teamed up after President Ivan Duque vowed unprecedented emergency measures in response to the pandemic and discovered a cesspool of corruption.
The tsunami of corruption probes
Prosecutor General Francisco Barbosa told Congress on Wednesday his office has opened 1,204 criminal investigations and forwarded the cases of Agriculture Minister Rodolfo Zea and 11 of Colombia’s 32 governors to the Supreme Court.
Inspector General Fernando Carrillo said he has opened almost 900 investigations against public officials in 19 governor’s offices and 117 mayor’s offices.
The Comptroller’s Office said his office found that $567,000 (COP2.2 billion) has gone missing at the Arauca governor’s office and the Sincelejo city hall alone and that the Agriculture Ministry wrongfully sent more than $500,000 (COP2 billion) in credit meant for farmers to large agricultural firms.
The fiscal watchdog additionally said it warned 26 governors about possible malfeasance with funds sent to their provinces.
The big fishes
The prosecution sent the agriculture minister’s file to the Supreme Court because he allegedly used one of his ministry’s agency’s, Finagro, to send almost all of the funds he was given for subsidized credit to large agricultural firms.
Finagro was supposed to send at least 80% of its $56 million (COP226 billion) budget to small and medium-sized farmers, Comptroller General Carlos Felipe Cordoba said initially.
The Comptroller General’s Office also said it would intervene in 132 suspicious contracts with a total value of more than $75 million (COP297.8 billion).
According to the results provided by the three investigative bodies, their provisional joint task force proved surprisingly efficient, but also laid bare how profoundly corrupt Colombia’s political system is, even in times of crisis.