BOGOTA, COLOMBIA —
President Juan Manuel Santos apologized to Colombians Tuesday after revelations that a scandal-tarred Brazilian construction company illegally paid costs related to his 2010 campaign.
Santos’ apology came after his former campaign manager Roberto Prieto acknowledged for the first time that Odebrecht paid $400,000 to a vendor to print 2 million campaign posters during the final stretch of the 2010 race, although he said the president had no knowledge of the irregular payment. Presidential campaign contributions by companies are illegal in Colombia.
“I deeply regret and ask forgiveness to Colombians for this embarrassing act that should never, never have happened and about which I just found out,” Santos said in a video message Tuesday. “I never authorized nor did I have knowledge of these actions, which were carried out in direct violation of the ethical norms and controls I demanded be put in place during the campaign.”
The revelation that surfaced in local media last week is the latest to tarnish Santos’ reputation for rectitude by associating the Nobel Peace Prize winner with Odebrecht, which has admitted to paying almost $800 million in bribes across Latin America.