Investigations into Colombia’s jailed anti-corruption chief have taken a new twist with the revelation that prosecutors are now re-examining his wive’s previously dismissed drug trafficking charges.
According to an investigation by newspaper El Tiempo, Carolina Rico, 31, was caught in possession of cocaine as she prepared to fly from Colombia to Paris in 2011.
Rico is the spouse of Luis Gustavo Moreno, the head of anti-corruption operations at the Prosecutor’s Office until his arrest on corruption charges in June.
Moreno, at the time working as a defense attorney, took charge of her defense and secured her release from El Buen Pastor Prison within a month after a court ruled there was no “reasonable inference” as to why she should remain incarcerated, El Tiempo reported.
The case continued until 2014, when Rico was absolved of all charges shortly before she married Moreno. However, sources in the Prosecutor’s Office told El Tiempo that they are now dusting off the file with an eye to reopening the case.
El Tiempo’s investigation also revealed how Moreno and Rico’s suspect activities did not end with the drug trafficking case.
The newspaper uncovered how after her release, Moreno recommended his wife for a contract with the environmental agency the Autonomous Regional Corporation of Cundinamarca (Corporación Autónoma Regional de Cundinamarca – CAR), where he worked as an adviser before moving to the Prosecutor’s Office.
Rico was awarded an approximately $11,000 contract for “the formulation and evaluation of environmental sustainability strategies, programs and/or projects.”
However, the contract was later terminated after Rico failed to present any work at all, according to El Tiempo.
Rico appears in the accusations levied against her husband, who stands accused of accepting bribes to make corruption charges against former Governor of Cordoba Alejandro Lyons disappear.
Investigators believe that Rico personally transported the $10,000 advance payment for the bribe from Miami to Colombia, although she may first have used some of the money to buy earrings and a bracelet at an exclusive Miami jewelers. In addition, prosecutors believe $1,000 of that money ended up in Rico’s personal account.
El Tiempo also established that Rico’s name appears on documents for several properties belonging to Moreno that the Colombian authorities have seized as part of the investigation.
In a letter Moreno sent to prosecutors asking for forgiveness for his meetings with Lyons, he reportedly stressed how his wife was not part of any scheme.
However, Prosecutor General Néstor Humberto Martínez told media that investigators are currently deciding whether to press charges against the disgraced top official’s wife for her involvement in her husband’s alleged corruption schemes.