ruta del sol

  • Source - Economist, Nov 17, 2018: "The plot thickens"     

    A billion-dollar road, the Ruta del Sol, connecting Bogata to the Caribbean has generated millions of dollars in bribes. The auditor that discovered the bribery (and his son) both died suspiciously. The companies that were involved in the bribery also have deep connections to the Columbian government.

    From the article: “The death of the Pizanos is the most dramatic twist yet in Colombia’s biggest corruption scandal. The case involves Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction firm that has bribed officials in a dozen Latin American countries, and Grupo Aval, Colombia’s biggest financial group. The two firms were partners in a $1.6bn contract to build Ruta del Sol, a motorway linking the capital region and the Caribbean coast. Documents and recordings made public show that Mr Pizano, an auditor for Grupo Aval, detected more than $30m in payments by the consortium for non-existent consultancies. Some of the money may have been bribes to politicians.

    Grupo Aval is owned by Luis Carlos Sarmiento, Colombia’s richest man. Its legal adviser for many years was Néstor Humberto Martínez. Since 2016 he has been Colombia’s attorney-general. Odebrecht has admitted in a plea bargain with the United States’ Department of Justice that it paid $11m in bribes to Colombian politicians in order to obtain the Ruta del Sol contract. Both Grupo Aval and Mr Martínez denied prior knowledge of these payments, and of any subsequent ones. Whatever the truth of Mr Pizano’s allegations, Mr Martínez, who has powerful political backers, is clearly in no position to conduct an impartial investigation into them, as he may have a case to answer himself. Yet he cannot be sacked as attorney-general. He has recused himself from two of many related cases, placing a subordinate in charge. "