April 13, 2024
Politics

Colombia’s Comptroller-General Claims 26 Officials, Companies, Politcos Responsible for COP$4.3 Trillion in Hidroituango Damages

Colombia’s Comptroller-General announced this afternoon (September 6) that it has decided to go ahead with court claims totaling COP$4.3 trillion (US$1.13 billion) against 26 officials, companies and several politicians for alleged “gross negligence” that supposedly resulted in a 2018 diversion-tunnel collapse at the US$5 billion Hidroituango hydroelectric dam in Antioquia.

Following provisional charges brought last December (see Medellin Herald 12/03/2020), the Comptroller has now decided to dismiss its initial charges against former Antioquia Governor and former Medellin Mayor Aníbal Gaviria, as well as former project official Jorge Mario Perez Gallon, according to the Comptroller’s announcement today.

The 2018 diversion-tunnel collapse has caused a 115% hike in the original budgeted cost for Hidroituango, according to the Comptroller.

The following 26 persons, companies and politicians — divided into four groups – all now face Comptroller charges, which they are entitled to dispute:

1, Hidroituango board members Federico Jose Restrepo Posada; Juan Esteban Calle Restrepo; Alejandro Antonio Granda Zapata; Fabio Alonso Salazar Jaramillo (a former Medellin Mayor); Alvaro Julia Villegas Moreno; Sergio Betancur Palacio; Alvaro de Jesus Vasquez Osorio; Ana Cristina Moreno Palacios; Ivan Mauricio Perez Salazar; Jesus Arturo Aristizabal Guevara; Maria Eugenia Ramos Villa; Rafael Andres Nanclares Ospina; former Medellin Mayor and Antioquia Governor Sergio Fajardo Valderama; and former Antioquia Governor Luis Alfredo Ramos.

2. Hidroituango managers Luis Guillero Gomez Atehortua and John Alberto Maya Salazar;

3. EPM-Hidroituango Vice President Luis Javier Velez Duque;

4. Construction contractors and consultants including Integral S.A; Integral Ingenieria de Supervision SAS (which absorbed previously involved Solingral SA; Construcoes e Comercio Camargo Correa SA; Constructora Conconcreto SA; Coninsa Ramon H SA; Ferrovial Agroman Chile SA; Sainc Ingenieros Constructores SA, and Ingenieros Consultores Civiles y Electricos SA (Ingetec).

The Comptroller also seeks to recover COP$400 billion (US$105 million) in insurance payments that would be advanced to EPM (Hidroituango’s over-all project overseer).

Hours after seeing the Comptroller’s announcement, EPM issued the following public statement:

“Faced with the failure of fiscal responsibility [alleged by the Comptroller], EPM with its technical, legal and financial team will study the consequences that this could have on the development of Hidroituango,” according to EPM.

“The persons [and companies] subject to fiscal responsibility will have five business days to file for remedies for reconsideration and appeal against this first-instance ruling, after being duly notified. This means that the effects of the ruling can be suspended until the appeals are resolved by the Comptroller General.

“EPM will be attentive to all subsequent actions carried out by the fiscal control entity, since if this first-instance decision is upheld, then EPM must have an adequate and planned structure that allows the continuity, without delay, of the execution of the Hidroituango project.”

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