Three former government officials were missing from their hearing, as prosecutors began their case against persons involved in the Agro Ingreso Seguro (AIS) corruption scandal, El Espectador reports.
The former secretary general of the Ministry of Agriculture Juan David Ortega Arroyave, former director of Rural Development Javier Enrique Romero and former general manager of the Colombian Institute for Rural Development Rodolfo Jose Campo Soto were all absent from the hearing, which the prosecution has called one of the most serious cases of corruption in history, reported La FM.
The AIS subsidy program was originally designed under the administration of Alvaro Uirbe to support small scale agriculture projects for rural families. However, it came to light in 2009 that millions of dollars of public funds intended for the poor had ended up in the hands of the wealthiest farming families in the country.
Seven officials who belonged to the Ministry of Agriculture, are currently under investigation for issuing contracts without complying with legal requirements, misrepresentation, embezzlement and fraud, among other charges.
In February, Colombia’s comptroller general ordered the seizure of assets belonging to ex-Agricultural Ministers Andres Felipe Arias and Andres Dario Fernandez while investigations continue.