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Colombian president Gustavo Petro’s son has been arrested on cash laundering fees amid an election finance scandal that threatens to undermine the South American nation’s first leftist authorities.
Nicolás Petro, who has been the topic of a probe into alleged marketing campaign finance irregularities since March, was arrested at 6am on Saturday, the attorney-general’s workplace mentioned. He was charged with illicit enrichment.
President Petro, who took workplace final yr on a platform that included a troublesome line on corruption, expressed remorse over his son’s arrest however pledged to respect the independence of the investigation.
“As a person and father, it pains me to see a lot self-destruction and certainly one of my sons going to jail,” he mentioned on Twitter. “The prosecution has ensures from me to proceed in accordance with the regulation. I want my son luck and power. Could these occurrences forge his character and will he replicate on his personal errors.”
Nicolás Petro’s ex-wife Daysuris del Carmen Vásquez was arrested on Saturday, too. In March she advised native media that Nicolás Petro — additionally a politician — had final yr organized donations to his father’s marketing campaign from people accused of drug trafficking.
On the time Nicolás Petro denied any wrongdoing, calling the accusations “unfounded and dangerous”, whereas his father welcomed the investigation and mentioned he didn’t have in-depth data of his son’s actions.
The attorney-general’s workplace mentioned on Saturday that prosecutors would search the provisional detention of each Nicolás Petro and Vásquez after they’d been introduced earlier than a choose in Bogotá.
Opposition politician Miguel Uribe Turbay mentioned that the president “should assume duty” for the marketing campaign financing scandal. “This arrest is proof of Petro’s deception and confirms a deal through which he bought impunity for political and financial help,” he mentioned.
Petro’s authorities has additionally been rattled by a weird scandal involving his former chief of workers Laura Sarabia and Armando Benedetti, a former marketing campaign supervisor and ambassador to Venezuela, over allegations of wiretapping a former nanny.
Saturday’s arrests have been made as Petro — who in his youth was a member of the now-defunct leftist-nationalist M-19 guerrilla group — struggles to push his sweeping reform agenda by way of Congress. Proposals that may broaden the federal government’s function in well being and pension provision are each faltering after lawmakers final month shelved a invoice to overtake labour legal guidelines and cut back working hours.
In April Petro, pissed off by the stuttering progress, declared that his governing coalition had damaged down and reshuffled his cupboard, ousting the revered investor-friendly finance minister José Antonio Ocampo. He was changed by Ricardo Bonilla, a Petro ally.
Traders have responded positively to Petro’s struggles, with the peso gaining greater than 20 per cent on the greenback this yr, outperforming most rising market currencies. Yields on the nation’s bonds have lowered in current weeks.
“This scandal doesn’t assist the federal government’s reforms,” mentioned Sergio Guzmán, director of Colombia Threat Evaluation, a Bogotá-based consultancy. “It should give lawmakers against Petro extra leverage.”