Investigators in Colombia are looking into an alleged corruption case in the construction of the Bogota Metro, a case that supposedly involves individuals close to the Mayor’s Office of the Colombian capital. The magazine Semana published a report stating that audio recordings in the possession of the Attorney General’s Office would demonstrate that individuals close to the mayor, Claudia Lopez, collected commissions.
In fact, Semana implicates the mayor’s wife, Angelica Lozano, in its article. According to these investigations, these commissions would have been used to finance the campaigns of various politicians from Claudia Lopez and Angelica Lozano’s political party, the Green Alliance.
Attorney General’s Office Confirms Investigations
In this regard, the Attorney General’s Office has confirmed that they have an ongoing investigation to verify if “a crime was committed by officials of the Mayor’s Office of Bogota.”
The prosecuting authority confirmed that Semana’s report on alleged commission payments is based on the interception of a phone call. In that conversation, Jose Joaquin Silva Ardila, a former employee of the Ministry of Transportation, speaks with a Chinese citizen, William Dong, about payments totaling 10 billion Colombian pesos in commissions, of which 6 billion pesos would have been handed over to the Green Alliance party.
However, the Attorney General’s Office has announced that the investigations are at a very preliminary stage, and it has not yet been decided whether there is sufficient evidence to formalize charges or close the case.
Companies Defend Themselves
The Concessionaire Metro Line 1 SAS, composed of two Chinese companies, is the business conglomerate responsible for the construction of the first metro line, which is currently under construction. Its representatives have denied any commission payments, stating that there are various mechanisms in place to verify how project resources are spent to prevent corruption.
“It is essential to emphasize that the issues addressed in the news have no connection with our organization. Metro Line 1 S.A.S. has not granted and has no intention of granting any permission to third parties to carry out delegation and/or representation functions,” the concessionaire stated.
Furthermore, Metro de Bogota, the company, has vehemently denied the accusations. In a statement, the company expressed that the defense of the project “has been the subject of constant political dispute to halt it. Neither the mayor, nor the Mayor’s Office, nor the Metro company have yielded or will yield to defamation in order to stop the most anticipated and necessary project for Bogota.”
The Mayor’s Response
Mayor Claudia Lopez wasted no time in responding. Lopez wrote on her social media, questioning the professionalism of the media outlet that made accusations against her and her family.
“The fact that Semana reproduces on its cover, without any verification, contrast, or support for the truth, a string of rumors from individuals drinking whiskey in Yopal about alleged improper payments in 2022, for a contract that was actually tendered and signed by the previous administration in 2019 for the first metro line, only seeks to defame and cast doubt on my person, my mayoralty, my party, the Green Alliance, and the Bogotá Metro.”
The Bogotá mayor concluded her statement by defending her honesty and the metro project in the capital, which has suffered from decades of delays, studies forgotten in drawers, changes in routes and modes, and has resulted in an absolutely deficient public transportation system that millions of citizens endure daily. In fact, Bogota is one of the few capitals in the region without a metro system.
“I have not yielded and will not yield to any defamation, cover story, warehouse, or undue pressure to stop the most awaited and necessary project for the people of Bogotá,” López declared, linking the attacks to political disputes over the project.