The controversial former CEO of Colombia’s flagship airline Avianca will be heard by prosecutors over the illegal spying on striking pilots, according to newspaper El Tiempo.
Former controlling shareholder German Efromovich and his former CFO Renato Covelo, will have to clarify whether they knew about the illegal spying on pilot union ACDAC during a 2017 strike, the newspaper reported on Sunday.
The summons is part of a wider investigation led by the Prosecutor General’s office into illegal spying carried out by former members of the security forces in collusion with corrupt prosecution officials.
The allegations date from August 2018, when the illegal spying ring was dismantled.
This group allegedly involved Bogota’s former police chief and used the Prosecutor General’s office’s wiretapping equipment.
The group allegedly targeted a variety of state officials and local politicians, as well as lawyers and businesses.
In the case of Avianca, the phones of pilots and leading trade union figures were tapped during the 2017 strike. This intrusion gave the company advance knowledge of the decisions and legal strategy of the union ACDAC, whose decision to strike left Avianca without the services of 700 pilots.
Avianca has “categorically” denied having anything to do with the espionage, claiming never to have sought out services for such ends or requested anyone else to do so.
They also asked their employees to cooperate fully with the investigation, asking that they divulge “all the necessary information, in order to help clarify the facts”.
However, despite all these denials, the prosecution has already shown that over 53 days, the calls, WhatsApp messages and emails between striking pilots and trade union figures were made available to the company.
Avianca has been hit hard financially in the wake of the scandal, prompting a reshuffle at the top level of the company.
The company reported a $67.9 million loss in the first quarter of 2019, compared with a $3.5 million profit in the same period of 2018.
Two weeks ago, Efromovitch — a controlling shareholder — was voted out of Avianca’s board of directors by United Airlines, who have a significant stake in the company, a decision they welcomed.
While Avianca will remain an independent company and continue to run their own airline, United strongly supports their company-wide focus on transformation.
This decision saw a 30% rise in Avianca’s share price, a figure indicative of just how toxic Efromovitch had become.