Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos publicly addressed the DIAN embezzlement scandal on Thursday, indicating that the arrests of 12 public officials are only the beginning of a corruption shakedown.
Twelve tax officials have been arrested for using false VAT forms to prevent the state from receiving money and then syphoning parts of that money into their own accounts.
The head of state said that most officials that work for Colombia’s tax authority, or other state agencies, are honest. He thanked those honest officials for their help with exposing the corruption within the DIAN.
The embezzlement scheme allegedly grew under the Uribe presidency.
“This pattern emerged in 2004. The Minister of Finance of the previous government had nothing to do with it,” said Santos said about the former Minister of Finance, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga.
Zuluaga had allegedly requested investigations into various irregularities in the DIAN,but managers continued to embezzle millions of dollars through their internal criminal network.
“Some investigators began to look into the scandal, but were then bought off with $226,000,” explained Santos.
Colombia’s Inspector General Alejandro Ordonez was with Santos during the address. He said that the country’s citizens should “have confidence that the institutions are leading this battle, and that the claims raised before those in control will be heard and produce results.”
President Santos also assured that the new legislation to counter corruption is an ongoing effort.
“This is part of a continuous effort, in just these two cases of corruption between health care insurance and DIAN scandal we are stopping the bleeding of $340 million,” said Santos.