Colombia’s Prosecutor General is under fire over spending millions of dollars on private consultancy contracts with ex-magistrates, consultants and journalists.
Senator Ernesto Macias from former President Alvaro Uribe‘s Center Democratic party opened the attack on Montealegre over the spending of more than $6 million on consultancy contracts that were privately granted rather than going through a public procedure.
According to the senator, the Montealegre is refusing to be held accountable before Congress regarding finances and private contracting, suggesting that he has something to “hide.”
The senator wanted to know: why has the amount of staff in the Prosecutor’s Office increased by 4,398 roles during Montealegre’s administration? Why are members of this institution designated as authorities in other countries, and what is the payroll of these “ambassadors?” How many ex-magistrates and journalists who have been privately hired as advisers?
Macias alleged that $6.2 million from the Treasury had been spent on the contracting of ex-magistrates, consultants and journalists.
The Prosecutor General, however, is reportedly refusing to take part in any discussion about how he has carried out his role.
“The fact that he won’t come to Congress leaves us still, more suspicious. If I was the Prosecutor General and I had nothing to hide, I would have already begun talking,” said Macias in the interview.
“He first says that the fiscal watchdog does not have the power to assume fiscal control. He then says that the Inspector General’s Office also doesn’t have the power to investigate him, and now he says that Congress has no authority to hold him accountable in a debate,” said Senator Macias. “What kind of civil servant are we talking about?”
El Espectador published a list on Thursday of just some of more than 20 advisers who were privately contracted by the Prosecutor General in the past 3 years, for a total of more than $3 million.
Of the most prominent on this list include Springer Von Schwarzenberg Consulting Services S.A.S. who were contracted in 2013, 2014 and 2015, for a total of 14 months and were paid over $1.4 million.
The firm, whose representative Natalia Springer is a political scientist and psychologist, was first contracted to process data based on particular crimes within the framework of the conflict; they were then asked to to prepare documents to report investigations for the first contract, and were finally asked to process data of the ELN and other criminal gangs.
Colombian law says that the Prosecutor General is prohibited from taking part in discussion about political law unless “invited,” an argument that Montealegre is appealing to in order to avoid appearing in front of the plenary of Uribists.
Montealegre only has six months left in his role as Prosecutor General, where he is in charge of a body of 23,000 civil servants and a budget of close to $1 billion after the government and Congress approved a reform that granted the body more resources and staff.
According to El Tiempo, the Democratic Center will seek support from the Senate of Tuesday to summon Montealegre to a debate in which he can explain the management of power and the large sums of money that have been spent.