Colombia’s part of the Odebrecht scandal is getting messier — and scarier.
Colombia is one of at least 12 countries entangled in the tentacles of a massive corruption scandal, which originated with Brazilian multinationals that systematically bribed foreign-government officials to secure fat construction contracts and other favors. The construction firm Odebrecht is the most well-known culprit in the so-called Lava Jato (“car wash”) scandal.
In Colombia, Lava Jato has ensnared the right-wing governments of two former presidents, as well as the country’s richest person, Luis Carlos Sarmiento, head of the financial holding company Grupo Aval. They are alleged to have participated in a scheme to secure a major road construction project, the Ruta del Sol.
Yet the work was never carried out.
The Economist also reported a particularly sordid development — the death on November 8 of Jorge Pizano, a Ruta del Sol project comptroller and whistleblower.
His wife found him dead on the bathroom floor, wrapped in a towel; his son Alejandro, just after returning from abroad for his father’s funeral, drank a bottle of water left on his father’s desk and died of cyanide poisoning.
An autopsy did not find cyanide in Jorge Pizano’s body, but suspicions of foul play are rife.
Pizano had provided Colombia’s attorney general office with explosive proof of Odebrecht’s wrongdoings.
Sources: El Spectador (Colombia), The Economist