Colombia’s fiscal watchdog accused Ecopetrol of making risky investments in tax havens, reported local media Thursday.
Ecopetrol, one of Colombia’s most prominent state-owned energy corporations, has reportedly been making risky foreign investments, according to Comptroller General Sandra Morelli.
Ecopetrol has investments in 14 companies that are based in offshore financial centers and tax havens such as Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and Panama. The issue is that a third party manages seven of these companies, rather than Ecopetrol. Furthermore, there is no record of how much is being handled by these third parties.
The Office of the Comptroller General is a government institution that acts as the highest form of fiscal control in Colombia. Although it functions as a watchdog and monitors the proper allocation of resources and public funds, the Comptroller cannot investigate foreign companies.
2012 has been a turbulent year for Ecopetrol. On August 30, it was reported that Ecopetrol President Javier Gutierrez and Vice President Pedro Alfonso Rosales were under investigation for allegedly embezzling more than $1 billion of company funds.
Although Ecopetrol was the best-performing major oil company this year, it suffered a massive increase in violent and destructive attacks on its infrastructure and workers this year by guerrilla groups FARC and ELN.
In early March, Ecopetrol again came into conflict with the Comptroller’s office when the latter accused the oil company of negligence, causing an explosion that killed 33 people.
For its part, Ecopetrol today denied the allegations made by the Comptroller Thursday. Indeed, they claimed their investments have generated no risks to the assets of the company or to the income of the national government. The company was quoted in local media as saying, “Ecopetrol does not invest in tax havens. International investments are concentrated in the countries mentioned above, U.S., Brazil and Peru.”