Fernando Londoño Hoyos, former Minister of Interior and Justice of the first government of Álvaro Uribe Vélez, is obliged to return the 145 million shares of the Invercolsa company, which he acquired irregularly and which some have described as criminal.
Fernando Londoño Hoyos, former Minister of Justice of Colombia. / Photo: twitter.com/flondonohoyos
LatinAmerican Post | Alberto Castaño
Listen to this article
Leer en español: Exministro de Justica en Colombia con líos judiciales
The Supreme Court of Justice of Colombia resolved the appeal, in the civil cassation room, which Londoño Hoyos himself filed, which sought to change the meaning of the first instance ruling of Civil Court 28 and subsequently the second instance of the Chamber Civil of the Superior Court of Bogotá, in which he was ordered to return the shares acquired through fraudulent methods as well as the dividends received.
The case dates back to 1997 when the national government decides to privatize the company Inversiones Gases de Colombia SA, Invercolsa, wholly owned by state-owned Ecopetrol. In this process of democratization of the company, some rules of the game were set and these were to give purchase preference to the company's active workers, pensioners, and former workers.
The former Minister of Justice, without being or having been an employee of the firm, presented a certification that accredited him as such and bought the 145 million shares worth 9000 million Colombian pesos at that time, about USD 2.6 million at the current exchange rate.
This letter was granted by the president of Invercolsa of the time, Enrique Vargas Ramírez, who also bought a significant number of shares without requesting permission from the company's board of directors for its commercial movement, which exposed him to a recall penalty of the Superintendence of Companies at that time.
Londoño did maintain a relationship with Invercolsa since he acted as executive president of the firm for five years, therefore, according to his defense, there was a labor relationship. However, the Civil Cassation Chamber, like the judges of previous instances, considered that the link that this lawyer had with the company owned by Ecopetrol, was not formal labor.
It is not the same to have a formal employment contract as an employee of a company to provide professional services and charge for them a fee, and this was considered by the magistrates of the high court.
The high court affirms that “nobody has denied that Dr. Londoño rendered his services to Invercolsa, the problem is to consider that there was a labor relationship itself, because even he himself always accepted that he was not linked as a mere worker, since he did not agree from the personal and tax aspects in the company of lawyers with whom he shared his professional activities, so he always agreed with the one that would be remunerated with fees, not only his personal services but also what is necessary for secretarial and custody expenses of books and papers."
The renowned lawyer and journalist acquired this number of shares through a loan that he made, in his time, to the Bank of the Pacific of Panama for the value of 9 billion pesos, but in the last expert opinion, which was held in June of the year 2011, the figure amounted to 47 billion pesos. However, at present, it has been established that these actions, which are based on payment in the Bolivarian International Financial Landlord, Afib, could be double approaching 100.000 million pesos (approximately USD 30.152.268).
Ecopetrol expects the actions to be returned by Londoño Hoyos, who in addition to this judicial setback, also suffered in the past the dismissal and declaration of disability by the Attorney General's Office in 2004, due to abuse of authority and conflict of interest in addition to a second penalty for prevaricating.
Of the seven magistrates that make up the Civil Cassation Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice in April, when the decision that was communicated until the end of October was made, three of the magistrates partially voted and made clarifications. One of them was the then Magistrate Margarita Cabello, who is currently the Minister of Justice of the Government of Iván Duque.
The Supreme Court of Justice, having put an end to this long litigation that exhausted all its instances, adds one more, of the officials of the governments of Álvaro Uribe Vélez, to the long list that have judicial problems, either prisoners in prisons Colombian or from the United States, involved in processes or fugitives.