Anti-corruption candidate Rodolfo Hernandez is due in court after Colombia’s elections over his own alleged corruption.
The corruption trial is the consequence of the liberal demagogue’s alleged corruption as mayor of Bucaramanga, the capital of his native province of Santander.
The lawsuit stems from corruption charges filed by the attorney general’s office in May last year, two years after the so-called ‘Vitalogic’ scandal broke.
The Inspector General’s office indicted the presidential hopeful in August 2019 already when Hernandez was still mayor.
Hernandez claimed the criminal charges filed in May last year were due to pressure from his political opponents in Santander.
According to the criminal charges, Hernandez was involved in waste management that also involves Hernandez’s son, Luis Carlos.
According to the charges revealed by the Office of the Inspector General, the presidential candidate first conspired with the director of the utility company EMAB and the contractor Jorge Alarcon in 2016 to rig the tender for a consultancy contract on what to do with Bucaramanga’s waste management.
The private contractor reportedly met with the Hernandezes and Barrera at the former mayor’s house to secure the deal so that Alarcon would eventually be awarded the $94,000 (355 million) contract, which eventually happened.
The invitation to the alleged competitors of Alarcon was false, according to the prosecution.
After hiring Alarcon, EMAB opened a tendering process to solve Bucaramanga’s growing waste problem by hiring a company that would convert waste into energy.
Hernandez wanted to award that contract to a Vitalogic company, which had promised his son $2 million in consultancy if Bucaramanga City Hall granted them the 30-year contract, according to documents in the possession of authorities.
WhatsApp messages provided to the inspector’s office further indicate that Hernandez’s son allegedly arranged a meeting between the presidential candidate and Vitalogic executive Florin Volcinschi.
Hernandez and Vitalogic got into trouble after Bucaramanga’s chief justice, Cesar Augusto Fontecha, found the contractor failed to meet legal requirements.
Hernandez pressured Fontecha to approve the contract, according to audio of a phone conversation released by TV station Caracol in 2019.
During the telephone conversation, Fontecha explained to Hernandez that he could not approve the contract because Vitalogic had not provided the mandatory proof that the company was insured.
“Standards can say anything. The law does not matter, ”reacted the presidential candidate.
“What do you mean by that doesn’t matter, I can’t commit fraud,” Bucaramanga’s chief legal officer told Hernandez and the deal with Vitalogic fell through.
After his win on Sunday, Hernandez claimed he was innocent of the bribery charge, adding that he was being investigated in “not one but 200” criminal and disciplinary cases.
These legal problems are the result of Santander’s political rivals, according to the demagogue.