Years After Allegedly Swindling a Group of Plaintiffs, an Elusive Defendant May Finally Face Justice in Colombia
The name Jaime Alberto Rincón Prado may sound insignificant to the vast majority of Colombians. But he is a man who has been involved a range of business deals, and now one of those deals has led to a high-profile lawsuit in which several people are accusing him of swindling them out of money.
If the lawsuit proceeds as expected, a long-time target of law enforcement who has slipped through the cracks may be facing allegations in court.
The saga dates back to 2005, when the plaintiffs agreed to sell Rincón mobile company S3 Wireless. Rincón never paid them, allegedly, but kept the shares through transfers using companies in Panama.
In Colombia, the case went through the hands of up to 12 prosecutors. Many said they would charge him, but it never came to pass — a reality which in part led to the US embassy in Colombia sending letters to the Colombian prosecutor’s office to take up the matter.
Andrés Idárraga, secretary of transparency at the office of the presidency of Colombia, has addressed the issue recently.
“This case is related to another of impunity, due to the role of the prosecutor’s office in the investigations in this case against Jaime Alberto Rincón Prado, but as mentioned since 2008, he was accused of crimes of aggravated fraud, homogeneous concurrence with procedural fraud and forgery of public and private documents by having transferred, apparently, fraudulently from the company S3 Wireless,” he said in a public statement.
Idárraga said that, according to the plaintiffs, the accused Rincón did not show up, and they had to wait for the process to be initiated again. That is why everything was always delayed and delayed and delayed.
Rincón, according to a report in El Espectador, never appeared at the hearing because he continually presented a 30-day medical incapacity.
“Mr. Rincón’s intention was to learn the business, especially the management of wireless networks on pre-Wimax technologies, and take advantage of the licenses that the company had to use them in private convergent services,” José Luis Malvehy, a Colombian whistleblower, told El Espectador. “S3 Wireless was a precursor of this technology in the country, so the Servisatélite company extracted this know-how, which was the company’s most valuable intangible asset.”
In November 2005, a contract was reportedly signed for Servisatélite (whose legal representative was Rincón) to take 50% of the shares of S3 Wireless in exchange for paying US$2 million, “which had to be fully invested in the company.”
But that, says Malvehy, never happened.
“Those 12 prosecutors, the last one ending up archiving the process and despite the calls of the Defensoría and Procuraduría in the framework of the process, simply the Prosecutor’s Office did not attend the case — much less with the calls of attention of the U.S. Embassy to the Deputy Prosecutor Martha Mancera,” said Idárraga.