A Bogota judge on Monday sentenced Colombia’s former vice minister of agriculture to ten years and three months house arrest for his role in the embezzlement of millions of dollars in agricultural grants.
Former vice-Minister Juan Camilo Salazar was convicted for embezzling $1.6 million through the government’s Agro Ingreso Seguro (AIS) subsidy program.
“It is clear that Mr. Salazar violated the principles of objective and transparent election and his behavior allowed others to benefit from the money of AIS program, obtaining large profits for big farmers and violating the sense of this program.” the judge ruled.
Salazar will also have to pay a $45 thousand fine.
The former official received a reduced sentence after reaching a deal with the Prosecutor General’s Office which turned him into a state witness against other alleged participants in the fraud, including Salazar’s former superior, jailed former Agriculure Minister Andres Felipe Arias
According to prosecutors, Arias embezzled approximately $25 million of money meant to stimulate poor farmers to wealthy elites to seek political support. Millions of dollars returned to Arias’ campaign to become the Conservative Party‘s candidate.for the 2010 presidential elections.