Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office has produced evidence that sheds light on the manner in which the major health sector corruption scandal operated, newspaper El Espectador reported Wednesday.
Charges were brought Tuesday against five suspects in the scandal, who stand accused of embezzlement of public funds, bribery and illicit enrichment, while there are 20 more arrests warrants still pending.
Claudia Patricia Rojas Puerta, the billing and claims director in the Ministry of Social Protection, is alleged, based on the prosecution’s evidence, to have been the person to collect the money produced in the scandal, and to subsequently determine the percentages that each participant would receive.
According to the evidence, the allegedly corrupt officials would reject Colombian citizens’ applications for health insurance assistance with paying medical bills. The act is illegal because all employed Colombians pay a percentage of their salary to the country’s health sector and, accordingly, have a right to receive help with medical fees.
After rejecting the claims, the corrupt officials apparently proceeded to use the patients’ information to file the applications as if they had been accepted, keeping the surplus money, with the patients unaware of their actions.
The web of corruption reportedly spread to the extent that several companies, including a number of consulting firms, were created specifically for the purpose of embezzlement.
Such was the apparent reach of the corruption network that there even existed training workshops for EPS [insurance company] employees that schooled them in the illegal workings of the financial collection systems.
Under the sophisticated corruption system, Rojas Puerta is alleged to have made at least $67,000 (COP 119 million) of the estimated $2.5 billion (COP 4,5 trillion) in state money that police have claimed may have been stolen in the scandal.
Other participants reportedly received a range of commissions between $8,500 (COP 15 million) and $27,000 (COP 48 million).