September 23, 2020

Duque describes Odebrecht's offer to compensate Colombia as shameful

Duque describes Odebrecht's offer to compensate Colombia as shameful



The Colombian president, Iván Duque, described today as "a shame" the offer of 106,000 million pesos (some 33.8 million dollars) that the Brazilian Odebrecht made to the State as compensation for the damages caused by corruption and to stop the processes against him in the country.

"What he has offered, first, is a shame, that is a shame, and clearly what has happened with that company is that he violated the competition regime when he also bribed," Duque said in an interview with Blu Radio.

On November 6, the Prosecutor's Office, the Attorney General's Office (Public Ministry) and the Comptroller's Office (court of accounts) unanimously rejected the economic offer made by the multinational, the third of the company since the case was opened.

According to documents published by the US Department of Justice, Odebrecht paid 788 million dollars in bribes in 12 countries in Latin America and Africa, including Colombia, where it delivered more than 11 million dollars between 2009 and 2014.

However, the Prosecutor General's Office later indicated that the bribes allegedly paid by the construction company in Colombia were greater and reached 84,000 million pesos (about 26.8 million dollars).

Given this situation, the president said that "for a long time" considers that a "company that has participated in bribes may never contract with the State", and to that end presented a bill when he was a senator.

In that sense, Duque said that Odebrecht must have a criminal sanction and that for this an initiative has also been presented "to lift the corporate veil and sanction legal persons."

"The other thing is that there must be a pecuniary sanction derived from the violation of the principles of free competition, and most importantly, I believe that this should be the standard we apply in Colombia: a company that participates in bribes should never be able to contract with the State, "he stressed.

The indignation in Colombia with the case of Odebrecht grew after Noticias Uno published an interview recorded last August with Jorge Enrique Pizano, the auditor of the work and considered a key witness, who died of a heart attack on November 8.

In the interview, Pizano denounced that the Attorney General of Colombia, Néstor Humberto Martínez, knew of alleged irregularities in the tender for the construction of Ruta del Sol II. since 2015, when he was a lawyer of the Aval Group, of which Corficolombiana is a member, ex-partner of Odebrecht in the project.

Three days later his son Alejandro Pizano Ponce de León, who had returned from Spain to Colombia to attend the burial of his father, died poisoned by cyanide.

The prosecutor's investigation revealed that the cyanide that Pizano Jr. had drank was in a bottle of flavored water that he found on his father's desk in his house in the town of Subachoque, near Bogotá.

The confirmation of the poisoning with cyanide led the Prosecutor's Office to investigate whether Jorge Enrique Pizano, who suffered from cancer and according to the official opinion suffered a heart attack that caused his death, drank water from the same bottle and that caused his death.

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