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Report: Colombia investigates a dozen companies for overseas bribery

Colombia’s regulator overseeing fair business practices is investigating at least 12 local companies suspected of bribing officials in other countries.

The Superintendency for Trade is conducting the investigations.

The report first appeared in the newspaper El Tiempo and was picked up by Colombia Reports, an English language source.

The biggest investigation involves Vram Holding, Colombia Reports said.

“The spotlight has been shone on Colombian agricultural company, Vram Holding, for its role in a $6 million contract to construct a baseball stadium in Venezuela and the movement of money through Panama and Hong Kong.”

Colombia enacted a law in 2016 that requires companies to give full cooperation in bribery investigations. Vram Holdings was fined about $50,000 under that law, the report said.

Vram was charged not with bribery but obstruction.

The investigation has reportedly now found “irregularities in business dealings between a Panamanian subsidiary of the Colombian company and the government of a Venezuelan state,” the Colombia Reports said.

If charged, Vram Holdings would be one of the first Colombia-based company to be sanctioned for overseas bribery.

Authorities in El Salvador are reportedly investigating another Colombia-based company called AGM Desarrollos.

A newspaper in El Salvador, La Prensa Grafica, asked how the company landed contracts worth millions of dollars to provide public lighting services just two years after entering the local market.

El Salvador authorities raided the company’s offices five times during 2016 and 2017, the report said.

The company hasn’t been charged in El Salvador or in Colombia.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.

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