An Italian businessman detained in Bogota’s La Modelo prison pleaded his innocence to accusations that he laundered large amounts of money and had illegal financial links to a former paramilitary leader, in an interview with Colombian radio station Caracol Thursday.
The 70-year old Giorgio Sale was arrested in Bogota in February 2012 for using his numerous Colombian businesses to launder substantial sums of money. The prosecutor’s office said at the time that his accounts provided proof of “unjustified increases” in his personal wealth. He has also been accused of having illegal financial links to former paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso.
Sale rejected these accusations and told Caracol that the case against him was inconsistent: “I have been imprisoned for 135 days and have up to this moment not received an investigative judge.”
Sale further stated that he did not have an illegal relationship with former AUC commander Mancuso. “I knew him as a guest in my restaurant and I have only seen him two times in my life– in 2004 and 2005,” he said.
In 2008 Sale and Mancuso were accused of working together to launder large sums of money, according to newspaper El Espectador.
Sale used to be popular in Bogota’s “circles of power,” claiming he was close with several members of former President Alvaro Uribe‘s administration who now deny having links with the alleged criminal. He was quoted by Colombian weekly Semana saying that “many members of the Uribe government who are now denying me, enjoyed my food, clothes and vine.”