A US judge sentenced Colombia’s former top anti-corruption prosecutor to four years in prison after admitting he took a bribe from a former governor in a Miami mall.
Moreno, who was personally appointed by Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez in 2016, received a reduced sentence because he was already sentenced to five years in Colombia.
The conviction sent a shock wave through Colombia’s notoriously corrupt political establishment, according to newspaper El Tiempo, after Martinez’ former anti-corruption chief agreed to testify against 26 Colombian officials accused of making part of so-called “toga cartel.”
This could potentially result in US extradition requests for Colombia’s former chief justice, other former members of the Supreme Court and prominent politicians who allegedly bribed Supreme Court magistrates to frustrate criminal investigations.
The US last year announced it would up its efforts to curb corruption in Colombia in an attempt to make its counter-narcotics efforts more effective.
How Colombia’s corrupt officials ended up in a US court
In June 2017, Moreno traveled to Miami, Florida to complete a bribery deal with the former governor of the Cordoba province, Alejandro Lyons.
The former governor was being investigated by the Supreme Court over alleged corruption in the granting of public works contracts while Lyons was governor between 2012 and 2015.
Moreno promised to provide confidential information about his case, including names of witnesses. Lyons fled to the US to escape prosecution and became an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Moreno communicated with Lyons through a middle-man, Leonardo Luis Pinilla Gomez. All three eventually met in Miami where Lyons gave Moreno and Pinilla $10,000 marked US bills. Moreno kept $7,000, giving $3,000 to Pinilla.
On June 18, while traveling back to Colombia, US Customs officers found and photographed Moreno’s cash. The anti-corruption chief was arrested weeks later in Bogota.
Before his extradition to the US, Moreno made a preliminary agreement with his former employer that included a list of names including some of the most prominent politicians and judicial officials in his home country.
Bogged down by corruption allegation, Martinez, the prosecution and the Supreme Court have barely made progress in the investigation against these allegedly corrupt (former) officials.
- Senator Hernan Andrade (Conservative Party)
- Former Senator Piedad Zuccardi (U Party)
- Former Senator Alvaro Ashton (Liberal Party)
- Former Senator Musa Besayle (U Party)
- Former Senator Bernardo Elias (U Party)
- Former House Representative Hernando Padaui (Radical Change)
- Former Senator Zulema Hattin (U Party)
- Former Senator Julio Manzur (Conservative Party)
- Governor Dilian Francisco Torres (U Party)
- Former Governor Luis Alfredo Ramos (Conservative Party)
- Former Governor Alejandro Lyons (U Party)
Implicated judicial officials
- Former Supreme Court Magistrate Gustavo Malo
- Supreme Court Magistrate Eyder Patiño
- Former Supreme Court Magistrate Leonidas Bustos
- Former Supreme Court Magistrate Camilo Tarquino
- Former Supreme Court President Francisco Ricaurte
- Former Prosecutor General Eduardo Montealegre
- Former Prosecutor Raul Acero
Whether US justice will investigate these officials is uncertain as Moreno’s list of 26 remained confidential, according to El Tiempo.