BOGOTA – Ernesto Samper, who governed Colombia from 1994-1998, knowingly accepted $10 million in campaign contributions from the now-defunct Cali drug cartel, the son of the outfit’s jailed boss said Thursday.
William Rodriguez, son of Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela, offered that revelation in an exclusive interview with RCN Television.
The younger Rodriguez, who served five years in a U.S. prison for his role in the criminal enterprise run by his father and uncle, said Samper got the money in exchange for his promise to facilitate a law that would allow the Rodriguez Orejuela brothers to surrender to Colombian authorities without risk of extradition to the United States.
Though the cartel delivered the cash, “pressure from the U.S. government” prevented President Samper from delivering on his promise, William Rodriguez said.
“There was $4 million in the first (electoral) round and $6 million in the second. Samper knew that that money was entering his campaign, my father told me,” William said.
Accusations that Samper took cartel money led to a congressional investigation, but the case was shelved in 1996, thanks, in part, to the actions of lawmaker Heyne Mogollon, who led the investigative panel.
William Rodriguez said the cartel paid off Mogollon to write a report favorable to Samper.
“We gave Mogollon some money to make him braver. Though he was (already) receiving money from us and was also receiving benefits from the president,” Rodriguez said, explaining that he was the one who usually delivered payoffs to congressmen.
Miguel and brother Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela were extradited to the United States, where each is serving a 30-year prison term.
Samper remains in public life, currently serving as secretary-general of the Union of South American Nations.