Eight Colombian senators are under investigation for their alleged involvement in the infamous Odebrecht corruption case, according to an order released by the Prosecutor's Office Wednesday.
New evidence in the international corruption case has implicated senators Armando Bendetti, Bernardo Elias, Musa Besaile, Antonio Guerra and Alvaro Ashton, all of whom are accused of using their congressional positions to win the Brazilian engineering company a legal stability contract in 2012.
Among other members of Congress under investigation are Martin Morales, Alfredo Cuello and Sandra Villadiego, all of whom were reportedly members of a group nicknamed the “bulldozers,” a tribute to their treatment of obstacles.
“We have new information about public servants (working) in favor of Odebrecht. Congressional services were hired through successful commissions to influence government decisions,” Deputy Prosecutor General Maria Paulina Riveros said during a press conference Wednesday.
Testimony from ex-congressman Otto Bula during his investigation also raised suspicion of the eight senators.
Arrested in January, Bula was suspected of accepting US$4.5 million in bribes in exchange for an exclusive work contract for Odebrecht’s Colombian branch in 2013. Riveros said Bula admitted to working with businessman Federico Gaviria to illicitly enlist congressmen and acquire legal stability in 2001. He allegedly permitted the company to tap into legitimate tax evasion through trumped-up circumstances.
"The modality of corruption detected consisted of the illicit hiring of services by congressmen, through success commissions, so that through their powers and functions they could press government decisions in favor of Odebrecht," the Prosecutor's Office said in a statement.
“For the group of senators involved, some US$2 million would have been distributed, for Bula US$500,000 and for Gavira another US$500,000,” the deputy prosecutor said.
Plinio Olano, a former congressman and current president of the National Federation of Departments, has also been implicated in the corruption case, the prosecutor reported.
"It is said that there was a reciprocity to comply with Plinio Olano by Odebrecht and that it would have been agreed through the incorporation of a surcharge valued at US$500 million in a work contract. Part of this payment would have been made through the inclusion of a trust company of the then-senator in the construction group that would develop such work,” the statement read.
Others under investigation in the international corruption case include former Boyaca Governor Juan Carlos Granados Becerra and former Secretary of Mobility in Bogota Luis Bernardo Villegas.