The son of one of the leading candidates in Colombia’s presidential elections last year paid almost $100,000 to a hacker who has admitted to spying on peace talks, weekly Semana reported Friday.
According to Semana, a payment of $95,000 was made by Zuluaga’s son David to the brother of hacker Andres Sepulveda. However, this sum was never declared to the National Electoral Council and it remains unclear where the money came from.
A meeting today at the Prosecutor General’s Office will aim to decide the charges against two members of the CD, David Zuluaga and ex-presidential adviser, Luis Alfonso Hoyos, who are both implicated in the hacking scandal.
The scandal hit the media in May 2014, weeks before the first round of the elections, with the suggestion of an alliance between the Colombian political right and active elements of the military to derail the campaign of President Juan Manuel Santos using classified information on the talks between the Colombian government and the FARC, the country’s largest rebel group.
Following his arrest, Sepulveda accused the Zuluaga campaign of enlisting him to sabotage the aspirations of fellow right-wing political heavyweight Francisco “Pacho” Santos, an ally of CD leader Alvaro Uribe and cousin of President Juan Manuel Santos.
Sepulveda stated that “When I arrived on the campaign, they told me, ‘Our enemy is Pacho Santos,’” said Sepulveda, explaining that “Pacho Santos had done a lot of dirty campaigning against Oscar Ivan Zuluaga.”
“They gave me the instruction: ‘hack’ Pacho Santos, and the hacking was done and Luis Alfonso Hoyos and David Zuluaga read that information,” said Sepulveda.
“That was an order given by Luis Alfonso Hoyos. That wasn’t something I recommended,” he said. “No,” it was Hoyos who told him, according to Sepulveda, “We need to know what Pacho Santos is doing. How is he doing it?”
CD accountant Carlos Alvarez revealed accounting records which show the payment, authorized by David Zuluaga, of $95,000 to Luis Sepulveda, the brother of alleged hacker Andres Sepulveda.
However, Alvarez went on to say that the huge sum was a result of a settlement to avoid a lawsuit from the hacker against the Democratic Center Party for nonpayment of fees for their offices during the first round of the campaign. Due to a lack of clear accounting, it is speculated that the hacker’s brother was paid not from party resources, but directly from David Zuluaga.
The inquiry will ask several questions: Where did Zuluaga’s son get the resources to pay the brother of the hacker? Why was it not reported at first to the National Electoral Council? And why was money intended for the hacker instead given to his brother?