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Colombian President Gustavo Petro's son says illegal money entered election campaign 

According to the information given by Nicolas Petro, his father’s campaign funding exceeded legal limits. Additionally, some of it was not reported to electoral authorities

Gustavo Petro en Alemania
Gustavo Petro en Alemania | EFE

August 4, 2023 8:05am

Updated: August 4, 2023 8:05am

Nicolás Petro, the oldest son of Colombian President Gustavo Petro, on Thursday admitted that illegal money was funneled into his father’s election campaign last year, prosecutors said during a court hearing held on Thursday. 

Prosecutor Mario Burgos told a judge that Nicolás Petro, who was charged over the weekend with money laundering and illicit enrichment, told authorities he received large sums of money from a former senator convicted of drug trafficking, a “powerful” businessman and a Colombian contractor charged with murder,

Last week, Nicolas Petro, 37, was arrested and charged with money laundering and illicit enrichment after a month-long investigation by the Prosecutor's Office in the city of Barranquilla. 

He is being accused of receiving money from drug traffickers in exchange for including them in the government’s peace plans. He allegedly bought properties valued at $349,000 with money proceeding from those deals. 

During the hearing, Burgos said Nicolás Petro confessed he used some of the money for personal reasons and the the rest was funneled into his father’s presidential campaign.

Prosecutors also said the president's campaign funding exceeded legal limits, and that  some of it was not reported to electoral authorities.

Nicolás Petro agreed to provide more evidence, resign his seat as a local lawmaker in Colombia’s Atlántico department and avoid accepting other political roles, the prosecutors added. 

"Mr. Nicolas Fernando Petro Burgos gave relevant information that was unknown until now by the attorney general's office, including ... about the financing of the past presidential campaign of the current president, Mr Gustavo Petro Urrego," prosecutor Mario Burgos said during the hearing on Thursday. 

Speaking Thursday at an event in northern Colombia, President Petro, denied the the allegations.

“The president of the republic has never asked any of his sons or daughters to commit a crime, neither to win, nor to finance campaigns, nor for anything that has to do with power,” he told a large crowd in the Sucre department.

“My sons and daughters have been free. They may make mistakes like every human being. They’ll walk different paths from mine, maybe, but from their father you will never expect that. It has not happened and it will not happen.”

He also made recent comments about how the case has hurt him emotionally. 

“It hurts me a lot to see so much self-destruction, and the fact that one of my sons goes to jail,” he said. 

The Colombian president has denied any involvement in the case, claiming that the has not received “any type of favor” from individuals associated with criminal enterprises. He added that he hopes any claims linking him to the illegal activities would “vanish quickly.”

Colombian ​​​​​​political scientists interviewed by the Washington Post said the case could harm Petro's presidency, which has already faced complications. 

“Even without this scandal it was very complicated, because he did not have the majority in the congress and he has not wanted to negotiate with political parties,” said Yann Basset, a political science professor at Colombia’s Rosario University. “Now the government’s only agenda is basically to survive.”

Nicola’s Petro’s ex-wife, Daysuris del Carmen Vasquez, is also being charged with money laundering and violation of personal data, according to a news release published by the Colombian Attorney General. 

Nicolas Petro pleaded not guilty to the charges earlier this week. If convicted, he faces sentences of 12 and 20 years in prison.