Colombia’s foreign minister on Tuesday defended the decision to appoint former Agriculture Minister Andres Felipe Arias, who is under investigation for corruption, as ambassador to Italy.
In an interview with Caracol Radio, Minister Maria Angela Holguin said the appointment of Andres Felipe Arias is a “governmental decision” and there is no reason for the former minister not to take the position.
Arias has been under criminal investigation since January for the alleged fraudulent granting of government agricultural subsidies to gain political support.
Despite the investigation, President Juan Manuel Santos two weeks ago appointed Arias to the vacant position as Colombian ambassador to Italy. The previous ambassador resigned because of his pending criminal trial over the bribery of congressmen.
“If only it was the case that everyone liked the nominations, because many are being investigated. There has not been any judicial decision taken against him,” the minister told Caracol.
“The information that we have is that there is no legal problem,” Holguin said.
Arias is accused of having paid large government subsidies, intended for poor farmers, to wealthy families, beauty queens, and paramilitaries. His successor in the position, Andres Fernandez, admitted in 2009 that the subsidy was in some cases paid to financial supporters of a referendum to allow former President Alvaro Uribe to run for re-election in 2010.