August 25, 2017 / 4:27 PM / a year ago

Colombia's FARC rebels say assets worth $324 million

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia’s now-demobilized FARC rebel group said on Friday that its assets, earmarked for victim compensation, total $324 million, plus hundreds of kilograms of gold, and rejected government accusations it has failed to list all its possessions.

FARC included footwear and orange juicers in the list of assets it will hand over, drawing ire from officials who maintain the guerrillas have extensive criminal wealth and sparking the government to create a special verification commission to look into the list.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) agreed under a 2016 peace deal with the government to hand over all funds and property to pay reparations to victims of forced disappearance, rape, displacement, kidnapping and land mines.

The group has for decades extorted landowners and business people, earned ransoms from hostage taking and sold coca, the base ingredient in cocaine, to drug traffickers.

The real estate, cash in multiple currencies, equipment and other assets listed total 963.2 billion pesos ($324.4 million), FARC leaders told reporters on Friday.

The attorney general and the justice, interior and post-conflict ministers all criticized the list on Thursday, saying it made a mockery of victims and included many items with little to no monetary value.

“With the inventory of assets and funds the FARC has continued to strictly comply with what we agreed,” rebel secretariat member Pastor Alape said, adding the list was difficult to compile because guerrilla assets were not centralized and many records, where they had existed, were destroyed in fighting.

“We took the decision to accept as ours assets identified by the state, principally by the attorney general, that are not in our inventory, because we ourselves lack information about them,” Alape added.

The list includes nearly 600 horses, 327.5 kilograms of gold and 196 billion pesos the FARC says it spent on road construction.

Colombian officials have previously accused the FARC of possessing large amounts of cash, as well as ranches, businesses and luxury homes, including some located abroad. Alape denied the group has any foreign assets.

The rebels finished handing over more than 8,000 weapons to the U.N., which oversaw their demobilization, earlier this month. On Sunday the group will kick off a conference that looks set to cement its transition into a political party.

Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Helen Murphy and Phil Berlowitz

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