No corrupt business in Colombia, says President

  1. Duque is struggling to push anti-graft measures through a fragmented parliament composed of more than a dozen parties
  2. Odebrecht’s bribes in Colombia totaled about $30 million

Colombian President Iván Duque has asked Monday, Dec. 3, that authorities extend the highest economic penalty against Odebrecht, the company accused of offering bribes in order to obtain tenders for public works in the country.

Without mentioning the Brazilian construction giant’s name, Mr Duque ratified the objective of his government is ‘to shut the commercial door’ to companies whose responsibility is proved in corruption cases, and reminded these measures are responsibility of industry and trade regulator Superintendencia de Industria y Comercio.

A younger-looking 42-year-old Inter-American Development Bank alumni, Duque was one of several pragmatic centre-right leaders to win power in Latin America as the leftist “pink tide” of the noughties retreated.

His electoral campaign offered to cut taxes and red tape, invigorate the country’s creative industries, tackle rising cocaine production and a tough stance against Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship in bordering Venezuela.

But after taking office in August and despite a relatively steady economy, the new president appears to find governing the country harder than winning the election, even if frontal anti-graft measures are taken on a regular basis.

“A company that corrupts an official to win a contract is not only engaging in a serious criminal offence but in a serious breach of the right to competition, which merits the highest possible pecuniary sanctions to be applied in our country,” he said during a speech in commemoration of Superintendencia’s 50th anniversary.

“We can not allow a single company to continue pretending to be part of the national economic environment based on gifts and bribes.”

On Nov. 20, Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez and the State Legal Agency submitted an application to disqualify Odebrecht for contracting in the country for the next 20 years.

“We want to show that any company into international bribery will be outside public works and tenders in Colombia,” Ms Ramírez told RCN Radio.

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