BOGOTA Jan 13 Colombia's attorney general's
office has arrested an official in former president Alvaro
Uribe's administration suspected of receiving $6.5 million in
bribes from Brazil's Odebrecht during a 2009 roadway contract,
it said on Thursday.
Gabriel Garcia Morales, who was director of an institute
that managed roadway concessions and later Uribe's vice minister
of transport, is the first person arrested in connection with
investigations into bribes by Odebrecht.
"The attorney general has evidence that Mr. Garcia sought
payment of $6.5 million to guarantee that Odebrecht was the
company chosen for the Ruta del Sol Dos, excluding other
competitors," attorney general Nestor Humberto Martinez told
He said an ongoing investigation would seek to establish who
else was involved and said bribes worth $4.5 million had been
paid to the Brazilian construction company during current
President Juan Manuel Santos's administration.
Odebrecht in December pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court
in Brooklyn to conspiring to violate a U.S. foreign bribery law
after an investigation involving political kickbacks at Brazil's
Petrobras unearthed the bribery scheme.
Odebrecht is Latin America's biggest engineering firm.
From 2001 to 2016, Odebrecht paid hundreds of millions of
dollars in bribes in association with projects in 12 countries,
including Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela,
according to the U.S. charging papers.
(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Helen Murphy)