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Colombia election authority magistrates call for probe into Petro’s 2022 campaign

In World
May 08, 2024

By Luis Jaime Acosta and Carlos Vargas

BOGOTA (Reuters) -Two out of nine magistrates in Colombia’s National Electoral Council have requested an investigation be opened into Colombian President Gustavo Petro‘s 2022 campaign over alleged spending and financing violations, two sources said on Wednesday.

Magistrates Benjamin Ortiz and Alvaro Hernan Prada also requested an investigation into Ecopetrol chief executive Ricardo Roa, who served as Petro’s campaign manager.

The allegations are the latest to envelope Petro’s government after former officials from the country’s disaster response agency this week offered to cooperate with prosecutors over alleged corruption involving procurement of water tankers.

Colombia’s president’s office did not comment but Petro has denied accusations of alleged illegal financing of his campaign for months, saying they are a bid to overthrow him and prevent him from carrying out his promised social and economic reforms.

“An administrative body brings charges against the president of the republic. It is an open constitutional breach,” he said on Wednesday in a message via X.

Ecopetrol, the country’s majority state-owned energy company said it had no comments on news of the investigation, which was originally reported in local newspaper El Tiempo.

Justice Minister Nestor Osuna said the government would abide by the final decision of the electoral council to either advance the investigation or abandon it.

The request for the investigation will next be analyzed by all of the electoral council magistrates, who will make a decision on whether to formally open the investigation, the sources said.

If the investigations go ahead, Petro’s case would go before the impeachment commission of the chamber of representatives.

The case against Roa would be taken by the attorney general’s office.

The sources said preliminary investigations found campaign contributions exceeded legal limits by 6 billion pesos ($1.5 million), as well as payments and contributions from two unions that were not recorded in the campaign’s accounts and chartered flights provided by an aviation company.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta and Carlos VargasWriting and additional reporting by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Alison Williams)

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