Evidence Mounts that Colombian President Did Receive Funds from Odebrecht
Colombian ex-congressman Otto Bula, who was ensnared in the Odebrecht scandal and who accused the campaign of President Juan Manuel Santos of having received almost one million dollars from the Brazilian construction giant, delivered a USB with information that includes information linking the president’s campaign manager Roberto Prieto to corrupt businessman Andrés Giraldo.
Following the announcement by the Prosecutor’s Office, which spoke of Bula’s accusation, no evidence has come to light directly incriminating President Santos. However, Bula has presented incriminating evidence that further solidifies the relationship between the Santos campaign and Odebrecht.
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In addition, the USB contains information about Bula’s contracts with the Brazilian multinational, in which he helped manage contracts such as the Ocaña-Gamarra road that has implicated former ministers Gina Parody and Cecilia Álvarez. In addition, it shows how Odebrecht asked him to justify several several million dollars in unexplained expenses that had not been cleared through proper channels.
According to the newspaper El Tiempo, the information provided on the USB self-incriminates Bula for money laundering and document forgery, since Bula signed a false contract to justify a USD $4.6 million expenditure; in context with this transaction, he also personally earned an alleged USD $1 million, which he has admitted.
There are also new individuals implicated in the case. Otto Bula says that a well-known owner of car dealerships named Lopez helped launder by reporting it as purchases of various Toyota trucks. Bula has confessed to moving the rest of the money through Chinese and Panamanian companies.
Now, the investigation will be focused on determining what happened to the remaining USD $3.4 million that Odebrecht attempted to justify through false contracts. However, everything indicates that this sum could have been paid as a bribe to obtain the lucrative contract for the Ocaña-Gamarra road.
The Ocaña-Gamarra road, passing through rugged mountainous territory in northern Colombia, links the departments of Norte de Santander and Cesar.
The investigation will also probe claims against the Oscar Ivan Zuluaga campaign that allegedly received funds through the mediation of Daniel García Arizabaleta, who was the intermediary between the campaign of the Democratic Center and Odebrecht.
Senator Bernando Elías, who is known as “Ñoño” Elías, has been repeatedly reported to have been involved in the corruption cases. However, he has been surprisingly adept at dodging bullets with the corruption cases, a trend that has continued with respect to Odebrecht.
Senator Elías was reported to have been one of the intermediaries in the budget appropriations for the Ocaña-Gamarra road, suspected of having been the beneficiary of the USD $4.6 million bribe paid by Odebrecht.
Semana magazine, however, notes that Otto Bula has chat logs in which several officials, including “Ñoño”, were very aware of the corruption involved in the awarding of the contract for this route, which proved a boon to the Norte de Santander department, a key constituency for the Colombian senator.
The Las2Orillas website published a series of photographs showing government officials participating in activities with Odebrecht, which is likely to cause further discomfort for the Santos administration.