New evidence surfaces of corruption in the State Council, one of Colombia’s top judicial bodies, with recordings that allegedly prove officials manipulated evidence and altered decisions in exchange for bribes.
La FM Tuesday published recordings that it claims prove that members of the State Council worked with “a mafia of lawyers to arrange rulings, manipulate files or freeze decisions in exchange for large sums of money, in order to save the careers of governors, mayors and other politicians being investigated by the council.”
The State Council has been under investigation for the past two years for the bribery scandal, known in the media as the “carousel of corruption.” Clerk Carlos Fernandez was sentenced to four years in jail in November for meddling in cases.
Following La FM’s publication of the latest evidence, the prosecutor general and inspector general will now investigate another three judicial officials and five other individuals, including lawyers, based on hundreds of hours of surveillance recorded by the prosecutor general’s investigative unit.
“People from outside [the State Council], lobbyists, are offering their services to obtain certain rulings by this high tribunal. So it appears that they rely on employees or subordinates involved in the rulings to sell them information,” Prosecutor General Guillermo Mendoza Diago said Wednesday.
Mendoza said that there is no evidence at this point that the people involved succeeded in manipulating council rulings. He stressed that no Colombian magistrates have been implicated in the corruption scandal.
State Council President Luis Fernando Alvarez said Wednesday that it is difficult for the council to strictly control access to information and many officials have access to the body’s files.
Alvarez said that when the matter first came to light two years ago, he pressured the prosecutor general and the inspector general to get to the bottom of the corruption allegations as soon as possible.
Among the recordings is a conversation between Edilberto Casas, a State Council official and lawer Javier Socarraz, in which they discuss the payment of several hundred million pesos to obtain a prosecutor’s favorable ruling.
The State Council handles complaints against government bodies and their employees. It also advises the Colombian president on his administration’s draft legislation.