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  • A sign of the Odebrecht SA construction conglomerate is pictured in Lima, Peru, June 28, 2016.

    A sign of the Odebrecht SA construction conglomerate is pictured in Lima, Peru, June 28, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 25 July 2019

The government will use state funds to pay off several Colombian banks that lent money to a now-defunct Odebrecht project.

 

The Colombian government said Wednesday it will bail out an Odebrecht-backed consortium in Colombia with the amount of 1.2 billion pesos, US$378 million.

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The money will be paid to seven banks that lent the capital for a national highway project which, due to the company’s major corruption scandal and subsequent loss of funds, is being scrapped.

Minister of Transportation Angela Orozco made the announcement, saying that of the US$598 million still owed to seven financial institutions in Colombia, the state would cover at least  US$378 million.

The money will be paid to: Bancolombia, Davivienda, Banco de Occidente, Itau, Banco de Bogotá, Banco Popular and Banco AV Villas. 

But the Colombian public isn’t happy about the decision to use state funds to cover the bank costs. The hashtag #nostocapagar (we have to pay) is trending as of July 24 announcement. 

Former senator and Bogota mayoral candidate, mayoral candidate, Claudia Lopez tweeted of the situation, “through a little game of (then) Senator Duque and the CDemocratic to avoid the expiration of Odebrecht contracts, today #NosTocóPagar the corruption and debts of Odebrecht and Sarmiento-AVAL. They always win and we always pay for their corruption. Until when? Until you keep choosing them!”

In 2010, Odebrecht, Corficolombiana and Solarte Group, formed the Ruta del Sol consortium to rehab a 993km stretch of highway - Ruta del Sol II - to better connect Bogota to the Caribbean coast. The mega project would have run through eight different departments and 39 municipalities that together account for over 23 percent of the nation’s GDP.

The Ruta del Sol consortium was also dissolved, says the ministry of transport, "in order to ... comply with its financial obligations and to avoid further detriment to their creditors."

Orozco explained in a press conference that the decision to dissolve the highway contract was due to the impossibility of its construction and financing.

The Ruta del Sol II highway has been muddied by accusations of Odebrecht bribes for other projects within the country, yet to be fully investigated by Colombian authorities, according to local media.

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