Colombia’s prosecution is trying to recover $478 million that got lost in corruption. This is the equivalent of less than 3% of what allegedly was embezzled, extorted or misallocated by state officials last year alone.
At a forum organized by newspaper El Tiempo, Prosecutor General Humberto Martinez said since he took possession, anti-corruption prosecutors have indicted 475 state officials and private citizens in a total of 300 alleged cases of corruption.
However, this is just the tip of the iceberg, according to Martinez, who said that prosecution offices around the country are investigating 100,848 alleged corruption cases involving officials ranging from traffic wardens to President Juan Manuel Santos‘ former campaign manager.
While Martinez was stressing his efforts to prosecuting corruption, he also admitted that the practice is so widespread, it is “chilling.”
Comptroller General Edgardo Maya said in February that Colombia’s tax payers lose approximately $17.1 billion annually through corruption, or $347 per Colombian citizen per year.
This would mean that the prosecution is not even behind 3% of the tax money that last year alone allegedly disappeared in the coffers of corrupt state officials.
Nobody is able to wash his hands of this and nobody can cast the first stone. Corruption is a phenomenon that has come to contaminate every sector of public and private life.
Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez
According to the Prosecutor General, 20 (former) governors and 230 (former) mayors are suspected of corruption.
On Thursday, former Choco governor Efren Palacios was charged on multiple corruption charges, one of them involving the alleged embezzlement of $1.4 million in healthcare funds to pay back election campaign loans.
The country’s chief prosecutor stressed that “nobody is able to wash his hands in innocence and nobody can cast the first stone,” and he was speaking out of personal experience.
Martinez himself is facing corruption charges in Congress, after leftist opposition Senator Jorge Enrique Robledo accused him of being directly implicated in the mass bribery of elected and state officials by Brazilian engineering firm Odebrecht.