BOGOTA Feb 16 Colombia's President Juan Manuel
Santos on Sunday ordered a judicial investigation into
allegations senior army officers received huge kickbacks on
military procurement contracts.
Weekly news magazine Semana which made the revelations says
it has hundreds of hours of audio recordings proving the
existence of an "astonishing corruption network" in which
officers received up to 50 percent of the value of contracts.
"The corrupt deeds denounced within the National Army are
very serious ... I have given instructions to the Defense
Ministry to immediately take firm and exemplary decisions as
necessary and make them public. This is unacceptable", he said.
Santos said that given the nature of the allegations, the
investigation could only be carried out by the civil and not
military judicial authorities.
Colombia has a fairly large army which has received
financial and other assistance from the United States for more
than a decade for its fight against the FARC and smaller ELN
guerrillas in a five-decade conflict that has killed more than
The government says the groups finance themselves through
the trafficking of cocaine, much of which goes to the United
States, though the rebels deny this.
Semana said the recordings, a sample of which were published
on its website, were of phone conversations that took place in
2012 and 2013.
Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said a careful analysis
of the facts was under way to determine how to deal with the
"These accusations seem to me very serious and in no way
will we tolerate cases of corruption," he told reporters.
Judicial authorities are already carrying out a separate
investigation to discover whether members of the military spied
on negotiators in peace talks between the government and the
Marxist FARC rebels after revelations by the same magazine.
(Reporting by Peter Murphy)