Colombia’s public prosecution has informed electoral authorities that it has concluded that the 2014 campaigns of both President Juan Manuel Santos and opposition candidate were illegally financed by Brazil’s disgraced engineering firm Odebrecht.
The Prosecutor General’s Office sent two letters about its alleged conclusion in an apparent attempt to make sure the electoral authority CNE takes legal action before the term expires in three days, Caracol Radio reported.
Both campaigns are investigated separately by the CNE after authorities were alerted by the US that both campaigns had illegally received funds from the Brazilian company accused of election meddling throughout the hemisphere.
Colombian authorities were not investigating the alleged fraud until after the US Department of Justice (DOJ) in January reported that the multinational had been bribing Colombian officials between 2009 and 2014.
The claim led to the arrest of the former vice-minister of transport, who allegedly received more than $6.5 million in a successful attempt by Odebrecht to be granted the construction of the Ruta del Sol highway connecting the capital Bogota to the Caribbean coast.
The subsequent investigation revealed that Odebrecht had not just bribed the administration of former President Alvaro Uribe, but continued to buy political influence in both the 2010 and 2014 elections.
Santos’ 2010 campaign manager admitted to having received bribes earlier this year and the prosecution found evidence that in 2014 the campaigns of both Santos and hard-right opposition candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga.
The Odebrecht scandal put enormous pressure on Colombia’s politics as it has disgraced not just the government, but also the opposition.
Zuluaga was forced to withdraw from the 2018 election race and Santos publicly apologized for the apparent fraud.
The two Uribe administrations (2002-2010) were already embroiled in corruption scandals, but Santos for years had claimed his administration was clean, until the DOJ got involved.
US prosecutors ripped the lid of a cesspool of corruption that most recently led to the extradition request of Colombia’s anti-corruption chief who had personally been appointed by Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez, accused by the leftist opposition of also being implicated in the Odebrecht scandal.