© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Colombian presidential candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga casts his ballot during the congressional and presidential coalition elections that will determine which candidates make it to the first round of presidential polls, in Bogota, Colombia, March 1
BOGOTA (Reuters) – Former Colombian presidential candidate and minister Oscar Ivan Zuluaga broke the law by receiving money from disgraced Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, Colombia’s attorney general’s office said on Tuesday.
Odebrecht and its parent company agreed in 2016 to pay $3.5 billion to settle corruption charges brought by US, Brazilian and Swiss regulators. Charges related to the company have been brought against officials across Latin America, including in Colombia.
“Given the extensive evidentiary documentation obtained, an indictment hearing against ex-presidential candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga Escobar (…) is requested,” the prosecution said in a statement, adding that it planned to charge him with fraud and illicit enrichment.
It was not immediately possible to obtain comments from Zuluaga or Odebrecht.
In 2014, Zuluaga met several times with the former head of Odebrecht in Colombia, Eleuberto Antonio Martorelli, the prosecutor said.
The pair apparently agreed that the Brazilian company would pay for the services of a campaign publicist and Odebrecht wired $1.61 million to the publicist’s account in Panama, the statement said, violating a law banning foreign party funding. policies.
“Evidence shows that Oscar Ivan Zuluaga was aware of the illegal contribution and presented accounts with an omission to the National Electoral Council (…) hiding information about Odebrecht’s economic collaboration,” said the office of the prosecutor.
The lies alleged to the council led it to close an investigation into Zuluaga, the statement added.
Zuluaga’s son, David Zuluaga, will also be charged with fraud, the prosecutor said.
The office also requested a hearing to bring charges against former transport minister Cecilia Elvira Alvarez, for alleged fraud in a construction contract also involving Odebrecht.