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  • Colombian ex-Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Andres Felipe Arias Leiva

    Colombian ex-Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Andres Felipe Arias Leiva | Photo: EFE

Published 12 July 2019

The Colombian official arrived in El Dorado at 8:20 Friday morning to serve his 17-year prison sentence awarded for corruption and embezzlement.

The United States has extradited the Colombian ex-Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Andres Felipe Arias Leiva to his native country after a five-year legal battle over embezzlement charges. 

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The Colombian official arrived in El Dorado, Colombia at 8:20 Friday morning to serve his 17-year prison sentence for corruption and embezzlement during his tenure in the previous decade.

Leiva was convicted for diverting federal funds from the state’s Argo Income Insurance program that he was trusted to implement while he led the ministry between 2005 and 2009. Arias worked as Colombia’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development under the Alvaro Uribe Velez administration.

Rather than use the funds as intended, to boost competitive trading between small, independent farmers ahead of a then-pending free trade agreement with the U.S., they were instead used to line Arias’ pocket, the court determined. He was awarded 17 years and four months in prison and fined 50,000 legal monthly minimum wages for his crimes.

The extradition request had been made to both the U.S. government and Floridian officials, but Arias refused to comply, challenging the notice with the United States Court of Appeals. Despite the former official's efforts, the extradition was approved in September 2017 by a Florida magistrate judge.

On touching base at the Cavalry School of the National Army, just north of Bogota Friday morning, Arias denounced the conviction, alleging the Juan Manuel “Santos government (2010-2018) lied,” adding that the judicial system was "very effective against the innocent," claiming he didn’t “steal a peso.”

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