The sham case launched by FARC ally Iván Cepeda against former President Álvaro Uribe was rocked yesterday with new revelations that his star witness not only received cash payments, but his family owns a sprawling ranch on 50 acres of farmland in Colombia.
Media investigations had previously uncovered cash payments funneled by Cepeda to Juan Guillermo Monsalve through an allied political NGO as Cepeda was pressing Monsalve to produce testimony against Uribe. Just last week, Cepeda insisted the money was “humanitarian assistance” to an impoverished family. But the new documents reveal that Monsalve’s family owns the “La Vernanera” ranch, valued today at $123,000, with farmland producing coffee and bananas in a lucrative region near a manganese mining operation – an asset worth nearly twice the average price of a middle class home in Colombia.
In the wake of the revelations, the office of Colombia’s Attorney General has opened an investigation on how Monsalve’s family came to own such a lucrative real estate asset, focusing on a suspicious transaction made by the wife of Cepeda’s star witness in 2018, the same year Monsalve changed his story and agreed to help Cepeda.
Monsalve provided the testimony Cepeda demanded in February 2018 and the Supreme Court opened the case against Uribe in secret. According to the new documents, Monsalve’s wife closed the suspicious real estate transaction on the ranch in June 2018.
Another witness close to Monsalve, Enrique Pardo Hasche, has come forward publicly to say that he knew the ranch was a “gift” to Monsalve in exchange for false testimony against Uribe.
The revelations come only days after documents showed Supreme Court Judge Cesar Reyes, the judge who signed Uribe’s arrest warrant without charge on August 4, had received $200,000 in cash payments through a suspicious contract with the office of then-President Juan Manuel Santos, Uribe’s political enemy, two years before he joined the Supreme Court in 2018.
The increasing web of unexplained payments, unreported assets and mysterious transactions involving the principal players in the Uribe case run in parallel with violations of due process by judges in the investigation stage, and a complete lack of material evidence against the former president, who remains under arrest without charge.