Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos‘ 2010 campaign received a donation from a businessman who has been investigated for money laundering, according to Semana columnist Daniel Coronell.
While Santos denies knowing businessman Alberto Aroch, at least two people — Aroch himself and prominent lawyer Alberto Preciado — testified that Santos had indeed met with the controversial figure and his relative, who wanted to discuss a campaign donation of around $75,000.
On the day the check was written and made out to Santos’ campaign, it was voided and replaced with a check for around $50,000 made out to the president’s U Party so as to not exceed campaign donation limits.
Aroch has been in Colombian headlines recently over his connection to the lease of a building for the government Comptroller’s Office. The lease was questioned over its high price ($30 million) and because the Prosecutor General’s Office says it has evidence that money for the construction of the building – managed by Aroch – came from members of the Guberek family who have been extradited to the US for money laundering.
Since 2008, Aroch himself has been investigated by the Unit of Financial Information and Analysis and the Prosecutor General’s Office over possible money laundering for some cash transactions.
This is not the first time Santos has been accused of receiving shady financial support for his political campaigns.
Earlier this year, ex-President and now-Senator Alvaro Uribe claimed he had “witnesses” to a 2012 payment made to President Juan Manuel Santos by former campaign manager J.J. Rendon, who was embroiled in a drug trafficking scandal at the time.
Uribe urged an investigation to confirm whether Rendon had given $2 million to the financial campaign managers of Santos in 2012 to cover-up cash problems in his successful 2010 campaign.
Rendon had stepped down as Santos’ campaign manager amid allegations that he received $12 million in 2011 from Colombia’s top drug traffickers for his part in crafting a proposal to shut down the drug trade.