EspañolThe United States has canceled the visa of Colombian Senator Bernardo Miguel “Ñoño” Elías, a member of the country’s incumbent “U” party led by President Juan Manuel Santos.
Officials reportedly canceled the visa due to his alleged links to the Odebrecht corruption case. The scandal has swept across Latin America, as investors continue to uncover that the Brazil-based construction company bribed high-standing officials in exchange for contracts.
In Colombia specifically, Attorney General Néstor Humberto Martínez said that bribes amount to over US $27 million, which is more than double the $11 million estimated made by the US Department of Justice last December.
Elías, arguably the third most popular senator in the country, reportedly traveled to the US a few days ago, but his current whereabouts are unknown. He’s been absent from Congress since July 20, when a new legislature began its session.
The Attorney General’s office asked the Supreme Court to investigate all payments to Odebrecht in which Elías has involvement, with the intention of finding any evidence of favoritism or collusion. It also requested documents from the Supreme Court to investigate similar events related to Mussa Besaile, another member of the U party, as well as Antonio Guerra de la Espriella, of the Cambio Radical party and the ex-senator Plinio Olano Becerra, of the OR party.
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“The testimonies collected … speak of the existence of payments to a group of congressmen linked to Senators Elías and Olano,” a statement said.
President Juan Manuel Santo applauded the fact that new investigations by the prosecution did not find any bribes to high officials in his cabinet.
“I welcome what was said,” he said. “For example, yesterday, the prosecutor (Nestor Humberto Martínez) said that in his investigations into the multinational case, he has not found that they paid bribes to high government officials.”