RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The National Electoral Council (CNE) of Colombia unanimously closed the investigation against the presidential campaign of Juan Manuel Santos in 2014 for the alleged entry of money from the Brazilian multinational Odebrecht, the agency reported Wednesday.
The determination was adopted by the full chamber of the National Electoral Council (CNE), which recalled that the investigation was reopened in 2019 after receiving a notification against Santos and his campaign by the Prosecutor’s Office.
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The Prosecutor’s Office decided after hearing the statement of businessman Andrés Sanmiguel, who pointed out the alleged irregular entry of money to the 2014 presidential campaign. That would not have been reported in the books delivered to the National Electoral Council.
“After carrying out an exhaustive preliminary investigation for the collection of evidentiary material, it was concluded that it was not possible to demonstrate the existence of a new fact that would lead to a possible responsibility that would give rise to continuing with the administrative action”, explained the CNE in a statement.
Hours before, the Accusation Commission of the House of Representatives also closed a preliminary investigation for the alleged entry of Odebrecht’s resources to Santos’ campaign, considering that there are not enough elements to continue with the process.
This investigation was based on the statements made by former senator Bernardo Elías, known as “Ñoño Elías”, who claimed that money from Odebrecht entered Santos’ campaign.
“Regarding the statements and the process of Bernardo Elías, we do not consider that any element, any evidentiary fact, any substantive indication that allows us to consider it possible to go beyond a preliminary investigation is gathered. So the preliminary investigation against former president Juan Manuel Santos is closed (…)”, said to journalists the investigating representative, Jhon Jairo Cárdenas.
In this regard, Santos, who was president of Colombia between 2010 and 2018 and the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2016, said on social networks that “after six years of investigations,” the National Electoral Council and the Accusation Commission of the House of Representatives “concluded that there was nothing improper” in his campaign.
“I have always respected the Justice of our country”, expressed Santos on Twitter.
According to data disclosed by the U.S. Department of Justice on December 21, 2016, Odebrecht paid bribes in Colombia of US$11 million as part of the millionaire corruption network set up in Latin America and Africa.
However, the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office estimates the amount of the construction company’s bribes in the country at 84 billion pesos (about $21.5 million).
Colombian courts have convicted for receiving Odebrecht bribes, among others, former congress members Otto Bula and Bernardo Miguel Elías Vidal and Roberto Prieto, who was manager of Juan Manuel Santos’ presidential campaign the brothers Enrique and Eduardo Ghisays Manzur.