A Medellin court has ordered Colombia’s Prosecutor General to investigate which businesses and banks were involved in financing the creation of paramilitary group ACCU that later became the AUC which in turn is held responsible for tens of thousands of human rights violations, reported investigative website Verdad Abierta Wednesday.
According to the website that investigates paramilitary violence in Colombia, Medellin’s Peace and Justice Tribunal wants to know where the money came from that allowed the late Fidel Castaño to found the paramilitary group in the late 1980s and which financial institutions were involved in the laundering of money generated by the group’s illegal activities.
The AUC that was subsequently founded by Castaño’s brothers Carlos and Vicente grew out to become Colombia’s largest illegal armed group in modern history which controlled most of Colombia’s drug trafficking.
While it has been established that some of the ACCU’s initial finances came from drug trafficking, cattle theft, extortion and kidnapping, the Medellin court ruled that prosecutors have failed to properly investigate the illegal armed group’s finances and links to legal businesses, reported Verdad Abierta.
The website was able to get access to court documents that indicate the paramilitary group and its front organizations had accounts with the predecessor of Colombia’s largest bank, Bancolombia, and the Banco de Occidente and Banco Popular, both owned by Colombia’s richest man, Luis Carlos Sarmiento.
According to Verdad Abierta, the ACCU between 1995 and 1998 had approximately 497 bank accounts under the names of some 60 front companies, all overseen from the office of a parking lot in downtown Medellin.
The private funding of the paramilitary group came to light most prominently when U.S. banana giant Chiquita Brands International was ordered to pay a $25 million fine for financing the AUC between its foundation in 1997 and 2004, when the organization was in the process of demobilizing.
However, some 10,000 government officials, businesses and politicians are suspected of illegally having collaborated with the AUC that was deemed a terrorist organization by the US and Europe in 2002.
- ¿Quién financió el comienzo de las Accu? (Verdad Abierta)