Former presidents of Colombian Reficar are convicted of corruption



Bogota, Aug 18 The former presidents of the Cartagena Refinery (Reficar) Orlando José Cabrales and Felipe Castilla Canales were sentenced to 5 years and 4 months in prison for acts of corruption committed between 2009 and 2012, when they were in that company, the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office reported Thursday.

The sentence was imposed by a judge of the Bogotá circuit after the Prosecutor’s Office demonstrated that the condemned executives delivered the contract for the expansion, modernization, maintenance and start-up of the refinery without taking into account the current regulations for public contracting.

The investigation proved that “there was no public tender, an objective selection of bidders, or an evaluation or selection process that would guarantee the designation of a company that had a high profile or experience for the construction of the project that required a strong financial muscle and a great technical capacity to develop the work during the established times,” the Prosecutor’s Office detailed in a statement.

This refinery, which was inaugurated in October 2015 by President Juan Manuel Santos, had a final cost of 8,016 million dollars, more than double the 3,777 million dollars initially budgeted.

Reficar, which is owned by state oil company Ecopetrol, has the capacity to refine more than 165,000 barrels of oil per day.

The Prosecutor’s Office detailed that Canales, president of Reficar between April 29 and October 1, 2009, and Cabrales, who was in charge of this company between October 2, 2009 and November 21, 2012, “directed the contract to a foreign entity for which they incurred in irregularities in the preliminary phase and in the contractual phase of the project”.

In addition, it was verified that the signed contract established autonomy for the adjudicator to manage; It also granted him total freedom in terms of control of the megaproject.

Despite all this, “the construction of the refinery presented delays and cost overruns in the millions,” pointed out the accusing body.

For all of the above, the hearing judge found Castilla and Cabrales criminally “responsible for the crime of contracting without complying with legal requirements, and sentenced them to a sentence of 5 years and 4 months in prison” and they were disqualified from exercising public functions. for a period of 80 months.

Castilla will have to serve his sentence in a prison, while Cabrales will do so in his residence, for being 82 years old and suffering from serious health problems.

As it is a first instance ruling, those affected can appeal the sentence, which according to the defense will be made before the Superior Court of Bogotá. EFE

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