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  • The Odebrecht scanal, first revealed in 2014 has toppled governments and brought down official all over Latin America

    The Odebrecht scanal, first revealed in 2014 has toppled governments and brought down official all over Latin America | Photo: EFE

Published 27 December 2018
Opinion

Rafael Merchan is not the first witness related to the Odebrecht case in Colombia to be found dead.

A Colombian former high level official has been found dead Thursday in his apartment in Bogota, Colombia before he could complete his testimony in the Odebrecht case. He is the second witness to die under mysterious circumstances, though the cause of death has yet to been determined.

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Rafael Merchan, the former secretary for transparency of the president and a former diplomat working out of London, had been set to testify in the Odebrecht case when he was found dead.

His testimony was expected to be on the side of Luis Fernando Andrade, the former director of the National Infrastructure Agency (ANI) who was accused of using his position to push bids towards construction companies associated with Odebrecht during the building of the Ruta del Sol highway.

Andrade, who was recently released from house arrest, recently missed a court appearance meant to prepare for his bribery case, and is currently abroad in the United States, because, he said, he needed to deal with personal issues, and to find security, indicating that he was being followed.

Merchan is not the first witness related to the Odebrecht case to be found dead. In November, Jorge Enrique Pizano, the former controller of the Procurement Office for Ruta del Sol II, and the person who brought  contract irregularities to light, was found dead in his country home.

In that case, cause of death is still under investigation, but the Coroner on the case resigned after admitting to mishandling the Pizano case.

The entire investigation into Odebrecht, first revealed in 2014 has uncovered that over the past 20 years, the Brazilian company paid upwards of US$9.3 billion to Latin American authorities and elected officials in exchange for public works contracts.

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