Prosecutor Daniel Hernandez must be adored by Colombia’s mafia and corrupt politicians for arresting policemen, losing evidence, allegedly wiretapping at will and not solving one corruption case.
Hernandez has refused to comply with his legal obligation to show his tax returns, according to independent news website La Nueva Prensa, and probably for a good reason.
The prosecutor has been implicated in so many corruption scandals that any misstep could land him in court.
Colombia’s smallest CV
An investigation order, and a flurry of testimonies and press reports over the mysterious prosecutor might merit a criminal investigation into the apparent go-to guy to cover up corruption.
Hernandez has occasionally appeared on National radio, but is largely a mystery.
He’s been so careful to not leave digital footprints that even his registry in the government database of public officials is almost entirely empty.
The only public information that is available indicates Hernandez began his first and only job at the Prosecutor General’s Office on February 12, 2004.
Finding a court sentence as the result of Hernandez’s work has been impossible. Finding more than one plea agreement too. Hernandez appears to prefer operating in the darkness.
After spending his first 10 years at the prosecution completely off the grid, former Prosecutor General Eduardo Montealegre put Hernandez in charge of the investigation of the alleged spying on the peace talks with the FARC in 2014.
This “Andromeda” case led to the prosecutor’s first and only plea bargain in 2015.
Far-right pundit and conspiracy theorist Gustavo Rugeles showed evidence that Hernandez had begun his own spying practices, initially on “journalists, who are abusing their position to manipulate information” a year later.
Rugeles, who often distorts information, was ignored until Hernandez became the right-hand man of of chief prosecutor Nestor Humberto Martinez in mid-2016.
Multiple former prosecution officials confirmed that Martinez and Hernandez embarked on an extraordinary spying spree.
The imprisoned coordinator of the prosecution’s Diamante wiretapping unit, Luis Carlos Gomez, took the rap after this was discovered and admitted to spying on “politicians, civilians, justice officials and even partners” in June 2019 in a plea bargain with his superior.
Gomez and the prosecution’s former Organized Crime chief, Fabio Martinez, told the Inspector General’s Office that the illegal spying practices went much further. Martinez allegedly ordered the spying on virtually anyone he considered a liability. This illegal spying was coordinated by Hernandez and his colleague Alvaro Betancur.
The interception order was given by prosecutor Daniel Hernandez verbally even, without any legal requirement.
Former prosecution executives Luis Carlos Gomez and Roberto Carlos Montenegro
Following the complaints, Inspector General Fernando Carrillo ordered a raid on the prosecution’s main office in Bogota on November 19 last year, but was refused entry.
The prosecution said in January it had stopped wiretapping following a “reorganization” at Hernandez’s request.
This reorganization consisted of moving Hernandez’s illegal wiretapping practices out of Bogota, for example to cities like Pereira where “the file on the murder of a university professor was used to justify the interception of the telephone numbers given to them by Daniel Hernandez,” independent news website El Home Noticias reported after the Inspector General’s raid.
The persistent accusations Martinez and Hernandez were running their own illegal spying operations is only a tip of the iceberg of Hernandez’s illegal activities.
The prosecutor has basically been put in charge of some of Colombia’s largest corruption scandal that — without exception — implicated Hernandez’s bosses and their friends and have effectively ended any investigation into corruption.
All kinds of corrupt politicians’ put Hernandez in charge of corruption investigations that the prosecutor simply screwed them all up. Impunity guaranteed.
Apart from Inspector General Fernando Carrillo’s failed attempt to investigate the prosecutor, Special Prosecutor Leonardo Espinosa ordered a criminal investigation against the prosecutor, but was ignored.
Hernandez’s ability to cover up almost every corruption scandal has made him an almost invaluable asset for both chief prosecutors and politicians, which ha allowed him to obstruct justice for five years in full impunity.
Saludcoop, Colombia’s largest healthcare intermediary ever, was liquidated in 2016 after the company, with the help of former chief prosecutor Eduardo Montealegre, went on a $400 million heist.
Even after Montealegre took office as Prosecutor General in 2012 he continued to receive massive payments from the company, former Comptroller General Sandra Morenelli revealed in 2013.
While the chief prosecutor ignored the evidence he was involved in a criminal conspiracy, he filed criminal charges against the comptroller general was forced to flee the county.
While Hernandez was working for the prosecution, his name appears as one of the attorneys who sought the company’s debt exoneration in 2016 after it had gone bankrupt, leaving 5 million people without healthcare.
The Comptroller General’s Office appealed this court decision in 2017 after which the company was split up and sold to other health intermediaries.
Special Prosecutor Leonardo Espinosa filed criminal charges against Hernandez in 2019 claiming the prosecutor and and chief prosecutor Nestor Humberto Martinez were obstructing justice in the investigation into the bribery practices of Grupo Aval and its Brazilian partner, Odebrecht.
The Supreme Court had called in the help of a special prosecutor because Martinez’ conflict of interest as Grupo Aval’s former corporate attorney, his blatant obstruction of justice and the destruction of evidence by the prosecution team, which included Hernandez.
Espinosa told the Supreme Court that Hernandez had initially tried to also obstruct his investigation by surrendering only partial information and later trying to stall surrendering the rest.
The Special Prosecutor additionally accused the prosecutor of trying to deliberately obstruct criminal investigations against allegedly corrupt politicians who were suspected of having taken bribes by Grupo Aval and its Brazilian partner.
Last but not least, the Special Prosecutor accused Hernandez and Betancur, who was also implied in the spying scandal, of allowing three Odebrecht executives to flee Colombia and withdraw funds from the company bank account.
“Any prosecutor in Colombia would rightly be dismissed and imprisoned for something like this, but not them,” an anonymous prosecutor close to the case told news website La Nueva Prensa.
Espinosa asked acting Prosecutor General Fabio Espitia to investigate Hernandez, but to no avail. Espitia was Martinez’s henchman and in no mood to threaten his powerful former superior.
Last week, Hernandez announced his unilateral decision that Grupo Aval CEO Luis Carlos Sarmiento Jr. was no longer a suspect in the case, ignoring a court order to investigate the businessman. The prosecutor additionally claimed the CEO had never been accused of any involvement in the corruption. He was. Twice even.
Martinez’s biggest scandal was probably the so-called ‘Toga Scandal in which the chief prosecutor’s hand-picked anti-corruption chief, Gustavo Moreno, mediated bribes between magistrates of the Supreme Court, and congressmen and governors they were supposed to investigate.
The imprisoned prosecution officials told the Inspector General’s Office that the chief prosecutor had assembled an entire team to wiretap all those involved after the bribery practices of his anti-corruption chief were discovered by the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2017.
According to the imprisoned former officials, the spying on former magistrates implicated in this cartel, as well as former prosecution’s Technical Investigations chief and an attorney mentioned in the Odebrecht scandal were wiretapped.
“In these cases, only verbal orders were received from Dr. Daniel Hernandez,” Semana columnist Maria Jimena Duzan quoted the former officials as saying.
Hernandez simply waited for a new chief prosecutor to needed him to obstruct justice. Prosecutor General Francisco Barbosa, who took office in February, did so after finding himself neck-deep in trouble within weeks.
Hernandez was put to work almost immediately after media revealed overwhelming evidence that drug traffickers conspired with the Democratic Center party of one of Barbosa’s best friends, President Ivan Duque, to rig the 2018 election.
As with every other scandal, the “Ñeñepolitica” scandal implicated the chief prosecutor, who was a member of Duque’s 2018 election campaign and an acquaintance of the main suspects.
Despite the fact he was Duque’s friend and involved in the allegedly fraudulent campaign, Barbosa insisted there was no conflict of interest and put Hernandez in charge of the investigation.
Instead of arresting the suspects in the election rigging plot, the prosecutor jailed the policemen who had coincidentally discovered the conspiracy while investigating the drug trafficking organization of Marquitos Figueroa.
Uribe’s witness tampering scandal
Emboldened he had gotten away with failing literally every corruption investigation he had ever dealt with, Hernandez’ on Monday stunned Colombia in the investigation into the alleged tampering of witnesses who had testified former President Alvaro Uribe and his brother had formed death squads in the 1990’s.
Because Uribe is investigated by the Supreme Court, Hernandez was unable to influence that investigation. Sinking the investigation of Uribe’s alleged co-conspirators in allegedly fraudulent criminal charges filed against Senator Ivan Cepeda was child’s play though..
While interviewing Uribe’s fixer, mafia lawyer Diego Cadena, the prosecutor claimed Uribe was not the mastermind, but a victim of his fixer, blatantly ignoring Supreme Court evidence indicating the opposite.
As if that wasn’t enough, Hernandez ignored the fact that Cadena was facing obstruction of justice charges and had already fled the country before.
The prosecutor baffled the country and granted the “gangstattorney” house arrest instead of throwing him in jail.
If the prosecutor is lucky, Uribe’s fixer will escape, removing’ Barbosa’s headache and allowing Hernandez to maintain a clean slate with not one solved corruption case in five years..