The president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, requested this Tuesday the Attorney General’s Office of his country to initiate an investigation into the scandal of the alleged millionaire bribes that would have committed “senior officials” of the Government of Ivan Duque in complicity with the former Prime Minister of Italy Massimo D’Alemavarious mediators and two Italian public participation companies, under the pretext of purchasing aircraft, ships and military equipment.
Petro commented that the Italian authorities had already made progress in the investigations into this case, in which the bribes negotiated to be distributed among high-ranking Colombian officials and those involved in Italy would be more than 80 million dollars.
The Colombian president made reference to this alleged case of corruption after citing a report by the Italian media outlet Corriere della Sera, in which it is detailed that the Naples Prosecutor’s Office initiated the investigations and they appear involved the former foreign minister and former vice president, Marta Lucia Ramirez; the head of the working group for the presentation of opportunities in Colombia, Edgardo Fierro Flores; and two commission delegates from the Colombian Senate who were identified as German Monroy Ramirez and Francisco Joya Priego.
80 million dollars in bribes were to be distributed for the purchase of naval military equipment between an Italian company and senior officials of the previous government. The Italian investigation is advancing, I request the prosecution to initiate it in Colombia. https://t.co/FQkiFwBjt7
— Gustavo Petro (@petrogustavo) June 6, 2023
On the Italian side, former Prime Minister D’Alema; the former director of administration of Leonardo aerospace company, Alessandro Profumo; and the former director general of the division of warships of Fincantieri shipping companyGiuseppe Giordo, among other mediators of the commercial operation.
According to the file carried out by the Neapolitan Prosecutor’s Office, which has already begun the search for those involved, all the suspects are being investigated for crimes related to an alleged corruption scheme through the sale of ships and military aircraft to Colombia.
“The suspects acted with various functions as promoters of the commercial economic initiative to sell to the Colombian Government products of Italian companies with public participation,” says the Italian Prosecutor’s Office and points out that through the Leonardo company “M 346 aircraft” were traded and through Fincantieri, several corvettes, “small submarines”, in addition to the construction of shipyards.
More than 4,000 million euros in business
According to the investigation in Italy, the commercial operation established by the parties for the purchase of military equipment had “the objective of favoring and obtaining from the Colombian authorities the conclusion of agreements for a total value of more than 4,000 million euros“, more than 4,270 million dollars.
The search warrant issued by the Naples Prosecutor’s Office, cited by Corriere della Sera, says that the Italians “Francesco Amato and Emanuele Caruso worked as consultants for international cooperation for the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs through Giancarlo Mazzotta.” These subjects had contact with D’Alema, who “acted as an informal mediator in relations with the top management of Italian companies” Leonardo and Fincantieri.
To finalize the negotiations, the outlet explains, the mediators “offered and promised other people the illicit consideration of 40 million euros corresponding to 50% of the total commission of 80 million euros”, more than 85 million dollars.
“The total sum of 80 million euros was to be divided specifically between the Colombian part and the Italian part through recourse to the associated US law firm Robert Allen Law”, which is based in Miami and was contacted by D’Alema, which acted “as agent and formal business intermediary for Fincantieri and Leonardo” to deal directly with “Umberto Bonavita and Gherardo Gardo”.
The aforementioned law firm, according to the Neapolitan Prosecutor’s Office, was going to be in charge of “the preparation and signing of the simulation and formal justification contracts” of the financial transactions that were going to be distributed to carry out the bribes, a process that did not materialize “due to lack of agreement” on the distribution of the funds “among the individual natural persons that constitute the Italian and Colombian parties.”
For the Naples Prosecutor’s Office, these actions constitute a violation of the Penal Code, which punishes “embezzlement, extortion, improper inducement to give or promise benefits, corruption and incitement to corruption”, as well as the abuse of functions by members of international courts or bodies of the European Community, international parliamentary assemblies, international organizations and officials of the European Communities and foreign States.
Marta Lucia Ramirez stands out and affirms that she does not know D’Alema
After the scandal was made public, Marta Lucia Ramirez, one of those investigated in Italy for the alleged bribes, stated that does not know former Prime Minister D’Alema and that when she acted as vice president and chancellor of the previous government, she did not have “duties to purchase military equipment.”
“Neither as vice president did I have functions related to the purchase of military equipment, nor as chancellor did I receive information about the scandal against the former Prime Minister of Italy Massimo D’Alema. The Colombian Embassy handled the issue with the Defense Ministries of both countries,” Ramirez explained.
In the midst of the controversy, the former senior official of Duque said that this news has been disseminated, in her opinion, as a “smokescreen” to divert attention about the case involving former senator Armando Benedetti, former Petro government official Laura Sarabia and her former babysitter.
Neither as Vice President did I have functions related to the purchase of military equipment, nor as Chancellor did I receive information about the scandal against former Italian Prime Minister Massimo D’Alema. The Colombian embassy handled the issue with the defense ministries of both countries.
—Marta Lucia Ramirez. (@mluciaramirez) June 6, 2023
“It is unacceptable that in the most serious political scandal in Colombia due to audios with serious confessions of financing the last presidential campaign, they put up smoke screens,” he commented.
For Ramirez, “the logic of those who commit faults” is to think as follows: “How do we tone it down and distract attention from Laura Sarabia, Benedetti, the chuzadas (whom they contemptuously call “servants”) and financing in the Coast and Choco? Easy, let’s get another scandal“.
“Those of us who want Colombia to have a democracy ask that any well-founded accusation of corruption be investigated at any time and Justice proceed, without falling into the game of smokescreens,” he added.
Similarly, former Defense Minister Diego Molano reacted to the scandal and said that “Petro is lying”. Besides, assures that it was the Duque government that “alerted” Italy on “suspicions of a private negotiating outside the institutional framework.”
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