A former Colombian Supreme Court justice was arrested last night on four charges in conjunction with his alleged role in a massive corruption scandal that has implicated former and current public officials in various levels of the nation’s government.
Francisco Javier Ricaurte, who turned himself in last night in Bogotá, now faces felony charges that included bribery, influence peddling, and the abuse of privileged information, the Colombian attorney general’s office confirmed. In a public comment last night, Ricaurte said “I am absolutely innocent,” according to Bogotá-based newspaper El Espectador.
The corruption charges stem from Ricuarte allegedly accepting a bribe from Luis Gustavo Moreno, who had served as the head corruption-fighting official in the attorney general’s office before he himself was arrested for corruption.
Moreno was put behind bars following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice that allegedly revealed that the anti-corruption official had accepted an initial $10,000, of an agreed-upon sum of $130,000, during a meeting in Florida to interfere in court case that brought embezzlement charges against Alejandro Lyons Muskus, a former governor of the Colombian department of Córdoba.
Other former Supreme Court justices, including José Leonidas Bustos and Camilo Tarquino, have also reportedly been ensnared in a related investigation that is linked to the U.S. law enforcement findings of bribery.
Between this ongoing investigation and the historic Odebrecht bribery scandal sweeping not just Colombia but all of Latin America, the scourge of corruption has become one of the largest political issues in the lead up to next year’s presidential election, which will see President Juan Manuel Santos leave office after eight years as head of state.
Photo: The Palace of Justice, the site of Colombia’s Supreme Court, in Bogotá. (Credit: Kinori)