Colombian President's Son Arrested on Money Laundering Charges

  • World
  • Politics
  • Business
PUBLISHED 31 July 2023

Nicolas Petro, the son of Colombian President Gustavo Petro, has been arrested by the police on allegations of money laundering and illicit enrichment. The arrest came as part of a high-profile probe into funds that Nicolas allegedly collected during his father's election campaign last year. Along with his ex-wife, Daysuris Vazquez, Nicolas was taken into custody in Bogota on orders of the court.

The chief prosecutor's office, responsible for the investigation, stated that they would seek provisional detention for the pair as the investigation into the money laundering charges unfolds. President Gustavo Petro expressed his stance not to interfere with the probe, emphasizing that he ensured all guarantees for a lawful process. He acknowledged the pain of witnessing his son's arrest while conveying support for the investigation.

Nicolas Petro's arrest is a significant blow to the Colombian government, which has faced conservative attacks and struggled to maintain bipartisan support for the country in the United States, a crucial ally. Despite welcoming the investigation earlier this year, Nicolas has denied accusations of receiving money from drug traffickers in exchange for aiding his father's peace efforts.

Daysuris Vazquez, in her statements to local media, claimed that individuals linked to drug trafficking provided money to Nicolas for his father's campaign, which she alleged was misused for a lavish lifestyle in Barranquilla. Prosecutors confirmed the charges of money laundering and illicit enrichment against Nicolas Petro and also charged Vazquez with money laundering.

President Petro himself has denied any involvement with the country's powerful cocaine groups and even requested that his son be investigated. His government has been focused on a "Total Peace" proposal, aiming to convince criminal groups to disarm and end the country's 60-year internal conflict, responsible for the death of approximately 450,000 people.

The president's efforts in seeking peace have had mixed results, with revived negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN) leading to an upcoming ceasefire in August, while attempts to engage the major crime gang, Clan del Golfo, have faltered due to ongoing violence.