By Alfredo Molano Jimeno, EL ESPECTADOR, March 26, 2023
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
There is cartel of corruption operating from Arauca that’s behind the purchase of a luxurious jet plane by the Police.
The Presidential Secretariat for Transparency and the Controller General’s Office have identified a sophisticated business network dedicated to the corruption of thousands of millions of pesos of public contracting. It works from Arauca.
What started out like the traditional purchase of a luxury jet plane by the National Police is now leading to one of the greatest chapters of corruption in the country. Behind the deal for more than 12 million dollars, there appeared another contract for the same amount for the acquisition of two more planes. Two different deals, adding up to more than 25 million dollars, and they have a common element: they were executed by companies created in Arauca.
The matter turned out to be so conspicuous to the authorities that they took on the task of making a mapping of the participants, the natural persons and corporate entities, that, in a sophisticated cartel, were able to capture contracts and procurements. In the center of the investigation is found Juan Carlos Manosalva Carvajal: the contracting czar of Arauca, whose footprints have been registered in commercial operations with 435 natural persons and legal entities in businesses that stretch from the purchase of airplanes to projects for Ocad Paz, from construction of infrastructure, procurement of supplies for hospitals, school feeding programs, and other services needed by public entities.
The case is also being examined by the Presidential Secretariat for Transparency. Andrés Idárraga has been meeting with the pieces of this puzzle. Up to now, what is known is that in order to accomplish the purchase of the Embraer Legacy 600 jet plane, which cost 12.1 million dollars, the Police contracted with Airship Consortium PCN, which is made up of Río Sur (5%), Construction and Development Projections (5%), and Ingeambicol (90%). The last two companies are based in Arauca and don’t have experience in aeronautical matters, but they do know about public bidding and public contracts.
List of persons and companies related to the contracting network:
- Juan Carlos Manosalva Carvajal
- Kambiar Investments SAS
- Engineering Business and Services Company SAS
- Elizabeth Rojas Hernández
- Starmark STM SAS Zomac
- Naranjas Joint Venture 2022
- Invida Investments for Life SAS
- Infrastructure Risk Management Consortium
- Leonel Alberto Arias Rojas
- Agua Linda Consortium 2022
- Zomac Industrial and Commercial Services SAS
- Kilia Maria Soto Álvarez
- Diana Susi Mahecha Herrera
The second piece involves two of the three companies that had to do with the purchase of the luxury jet plane, who got together to buy two more airplanes, also for the Police. There were two ATR 42-500, which cost 6.1 million and 6.4 million dollars respectively. The purchase was made through the Colombia Wings Consortium. Río Sur (5%) and Integrated Service Associates Company S.A.S. EMSA (95%).
(A chart is omitted here. See https://cambiocolombia.com/poder/el-nuevo-cartel-de-la-contratacion-compra-de-aviones-obras-publicas-y-plata-de-la-paz)
And here is where the web starts to expand. The Emsa legal representative is Pablo Andrés Rojas Castellanos, a young man recently graduated with a law degree and clearly connected to the contracting czar. According to what the journalist Diana Giraldo of CARACOL RADIO and SEMANA has revealed, he is the nephew of Manosalva’s ex-wife, Elizabeth Rojas Hernández. She has also built a contracting empire with the participation of 14 consortiums and one joint venture, according to information gathered by the defense contracting office of Colombia’s Controller General, Luis Eduardo Parra. This official’s investigation found that the names of Rojas Hernández and her young nephew are connected in one form or another with 14 consortiums and two joint ventures.
List of persons and companies being investigated by the authorities for the purchase by the Police of the luxury airplane.
- Rio Sur SAS
- Projections for Development and Construction Company SAS
- Ingeambicol SAS
- Integrated Services Company and Associates SAS EMSA Associates
- Luiz Ignacio Stein
- Norida Paola García Nontoa
- Sharon Gianina Moreno Bernal
- Ingrid Astrid Ramírez Arrieta
- Pablo Andrés Rojas Castellanos
- Colombian Police Antinarcotics Management
- Colombia Aeronautics and Industries Corporation S.A. –CIAC S.A.
- Ricardo Augusto Alarcón Campos
- Romel Alcides Bernate Suárez
- Iván Delascar Hidalgo Giraldo
Pablo Andrés Rojas also figures as the legal representative of two companies: Jukamaro Business Alliance Foundation and Invida Investments for Life Ltd. The latter company has an interest in a PAE (Colombia’s Government School Meals Program) contract in Arauca for 350 million pesos (roughly USD $75,000 at today’s exchange rates), and is auditing Naranjas Joint Venture, which also obtained an Ocad contract for 26,000 million pesos (roughly USD $6,000). And it’s here in this contract that names related to the purchases of the airplanes begin to appear. Four companies are part of this joint venture, including Ingeambicol, owner of 90% of the purchase of the jet, but José Aristóbulo Moreno Maldonado also shows up. He is the tax inspector for three of the four companies in charge of carrying out the project to be funded by the fruits of the peace. Another recurring name in this machination is Ángel Danovis Duque Rojas, who ends up being the accountant and tax inspector in the PAE contract.
(Another chart is omitted here.)
Secretary Idárraga made this reference to the network: “Ever since the month of February, the Secretariat of Transparency has been receiving alerts about the purchase of the Police airplane. We have been working since then to clear up the alleged irregularity in the contracting. That has made us able to identify a possible relationship between a network of contractors that are using joint ventures and consortiums to obtain public contracts. There is an overlap between legal representatives, accountants, and tax inspectors.
One case is the case of the Naranjas Joint Venture. Cases like this one put us on a greater alert, because we found that the company that owns 90 % of the Police airplane contract has signed up 17 consortiums and joint ventures that have not registered their contracts officially.”
(Another diagram is omitted.)
Idárraga can’t get over his surprise that the execution of a contract for thousands of millions of pesos would be concentrated in people and companies from Arauca that are all inter-related. “The question left by this situation is why would a company like Ingeambicol have bought airplanes, would have managed Ocad Paz money, and put together 20 consortiums and 20 joint ventures that leave no public trace of who the partners are and on which contracts,” warned the Secretary of Transparency.
(Another diagram is omitted.)
The answer seems to be contractor Manosalva Carvajal, because the companies that got those contracts are all directly and indirectly related to him. That concerns Colombia’s Controller General, because the contracting czar in Arauca left his fingerprints on at least three projects that ended up in legal cases for which the Attorney General is responsible. One is the case of the River Port in Barrancabermeja, in which the government’s loss has reached more than 39,300 million pesos (roughly USD $8,426,000 at today’s exchange rates) and the construction of the Functional Rehabilitation Center for the Health Battalion (Basan), where the loss to the government was more than 30,500 million pesos (roughly USD $6,550,000 at today’s exchange rates), or of the 2,600 million pesos (roughly USD $560,000 at today’s exchange rates) swindle of the construction of the Special Energy Battalion and the Road to Puerto Jordán in Arauca. All of that adds up to 72,500 million pesos. There are fiscal responsibility prosecutions of the Manosalva companies, and there is a common thread: a retired high official of the Armed Forces.
“Mr. Juan Carlos Manosalva Carvajal is curiously the same contractor from Arauca Department who took part as a majority owner (95%) of the consortiums that ended up acquiring the airplanes for the Colombian National Police, an Embraer brand Legacy 600 VIP type jet (for high executives) and two ATR-500’s. In the same way, in the ruinous and never-built building that was supposed to be the Health Battalion Functional Rehabilitation Center (Basan), that was going to be a hospital for our country’s heroes, who are the real victims of the conflict, and which now constitutes another white elephant,” emphasized Parra, the Controller assigned to Defense contracting.
These two entities are now in the process of reconstructing the contours of this network of companies, born on the lands of Arauca, and who have obtained public contracts worth millions, including the one for the purchase of a luxury airplane for the Police, who acquired it speedily, but with very unusual circumgyrations, which, when all is said and done, opened up a trail that leads to the contracting czar in Arauca, an old acquaintance in Army quarters and Police stations.
 Ocad Paz is the entity in the General System of Royalties (SGR) responsible for assessing, prioritizing, and approving projects to be financed by royalties.