Colombian Vice President Denies Involvement in Odebrecht Loan
Colombian Vice President Germán Vargas Lleras said Thursday that he has nothing to do with a loan made by Banco Agrario, a Colombian bank, to the Brazilian multinational Odebrecht, which is now in the process of dissolution in the wake of a massive corruption scandal which has reverberated throughout Latin America.
The vice president was accused by left-wing senator, Jorge Enrique Robledo, who assured that in 2015 the Banco Agrario lent 120 billion pesos (USD $41 million) to the company Navalena SAS, a division of Odebrecht, for a public works projects seeking to improve the navigability of the Magdalena river, the main river of the country.
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The vice president said that he has never intervened on behalf of any transport company in order to secure bank loans, according to Vargas Lleras’s official communique obtained by the news agency EFE .
In the complaint, Robledo said that “the judicial authorities must subpoena the president of the Republic, Juan Manuel Santos, and the vice president Germán Vargas Lleras in order to determine the facts of the case,” while Vargas Lleras retorted that only Francisco Solano, manager of the Banco Agrario at that time, and its board of directors, are responsible for giving an explanation for the loan.
“Senator Jorge Enrique Robledo is wrong in pointing the finger in my direction. I have never intervened and I have nothing to do with this matter. We should, however, seek explanations, and we all hope that we will get to the bottom of this promptly,” added Vargas Lleras in his statement.
Robledo says that the loan to Odebrecht was made at a lower interest rate than is usually charged to Colombian farmers who benefit from the agrarian bank, through the opportunities it specifically offers to the agricultural sector.