The subsidy scandal which caused the barring from public office of former Agricultural Minister Andres Felipe Arias is a trap, Arias and his former boss, ex-President Alvaro Uribe, said Tuesday.
“It is unfair that honorable officials are held accountable for particular traps,” Arias told RCN radio. “No official of the ministry stole agricultural subsidies.”
In a disciplinary sanction announced in the midst of an ongoing criminal investigation, Colombia’s Inspector General’s Office banned Arias from holding public office for 16 years.
During his tenure as the Colombian Minister of Agriculture under the administration of former President Alvaro Uribe, Arias allegedly redirected government subsides meant for poor farmers into the hands of powerful families in exchange for political support.
“What I cannot accept is that the [subsidy] program was intended only for big business, because 99% of the beneficiaries were farmers,” Arias said, adding that he plans to repeal the decision.
A former presidential hopeful, many considered Arias to be the prodigy of Alvaro Uribe.
“Andres Arias: There is no fraud, no corruption, no one stole a peso,” Uribe wrote on Twitter to Arias, renouncing the sanction.
Uribe supported Arias’ entrapment claim, referring to the sanction against his former minister as a “private trap.”