New information has been released that suggests the Uribe government in 2009 already knew about corruption by officials at the Colombian tax authority DIAN that according to the current administration has cost the state $340 million.
According to the radio station, the Uribe administration received a report from Colombia’s tax and customs police DIAN in 2009 that alerted the government to the shell companies used by the 12 tax officials who were arrested on Thursday for embezzling funds that according to President Juan Manuel Santos accumulated to nearly half a billion dollars.
According to media, nearly $4.3 billion was embezzled.
The report listed the names of the shell companies and revealed that although they had no physical addresses and existed only on paper they had requested significant VAT refunds from DIAN.
The report further highlighted the level of sophistication of the fraud, noting that the fraudsters were “professionals with document support for all their operations.”
The DIAN officials arrested Thursday are believed to have been active from 2004 to 2009. Media estimates of the cost of their fraud have varied wildly from $2 billion total to 10% of Colombia’s total tax revenue ($4.26 billion) every year.