Colombia’s former vice minister of agriculture signed a preliminary plea bargain in order to receive a reduced sentence for his involvement in the agriculture subsidy program AIS corruption scandal, Caracol Radio reported Thursday.
Ex-minister Juan Camilo Salazar, who was jailed in April, pled guilty to two of the three charges against him — embezzlement and the misappropriation and misuse of contracts — so that the investigation against him for the third charge, undue interest in the contracts, would be discontinued.
In the bargain, the prosecutor agreed to remove Salazar’s name as the perpetrator of the crime of undue interest in the contracts and changed embezzlement charge from willful (with intention) to negligent (breached his duty of care).
A judge is expected to officially accept the plea bargain later in the day, which could land the ex-vice minister a five year, three month sentence.
In the biggest scandal to ever hit the Colombian agricultural industry, wealthy families, politicians’ family members, beauty queens and then-President Alvaro Uribe supporters were given huge sums of money that was intended for poor farmers to “promote productivity and competition and reduce inequality.”
Former Agriculture Minister Andres Felipe Arias is currently awaiting trial in prison for his role in the subsidy scandal, which broke news in 2009.
The government announced in April that the subsidy scheme will return this year under a new name, the Rural Development Equity Program (DRE), and tighter precautionary measures.