Colombian politician Fajardo to face embezzlement charges before Supreme Court

2 minute read

Presidential candidate Sergio Fajardo walks with his wife Ana Lucrecia Ramirez as Colombians vote for a new president in Medellin, Colombia, May 27, 2018. REUTERS/Fredy Builes

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

BOGOTA, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Colombian politician and 2022 presidential hopeful Sergio Fajardo will face embezzlement charges in front of the Supreme Court, the attorney general's office said on Friday, as it formally charged him before the tribunal over a loan deal.

Fajardo, is accused of unduly allowing a $98 million loan contract for Antioquia province, where he was governor between 2012 and 2015, to be denominated in dollars, to the benefit of third parties involved in the transaction.

The center-left Fajardo, who narrowly missed the second round of presidential voting in 2018 and has placed second in some surveys ahead of the next election in May, says he acted correctly and on Friday welcomed the chance to prove it.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

The attorney general's office said Fajardo violated public tender and transparency principles.

"A prosecutor assigned before the Supreme Court of Justice adopted the determination after finding probative materials that establish with probability of truth that Sergio Fajardo Valderrama could be classed as a co-author of the crimes," it said in a statement.

There was no study done on the need for the contract to be denominated in dollars, the attorney general's office has said, nor a projection about the volatility of the dollar or insurance against exchange rate risks.

The $98 million sum is significantly higher than a $77 million value cited by prosecutors in March. Friday's statement did not explain the discrepancy and the office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"Finally the attorney general's office attended to our repeated request to respect a reasonable time frame and proceed, after a five year process, to accuse me before the Supreme Court of Justice," Fajardo said on Twitter early on Friday. "I acted correctly and I will demonstrate it."

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb Editing by Tomasz Janowski

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.