US considering asylum request for convicted ex-minister: Colombia Prosecutor General

Posted on Aug 16 2014 - 1:03pm by Today News
Andres Felipe Arias

Colombia´s Prosecutor General Office confirmed Friday that Andres Felipe filed an asylum request in Florida last month, local media reported.

Former Minister of Agriculture Andres Felipe Arias, convicted of embezzling over $25 million in government funds, is currently in Florida while US authorities process his request for political asylum, according to El Colombiano.

According to sources in the government, Arias filed the asylum request on July 7, arguing that he was being persecuted in Colombia for political reasons.

MORE: Convicted of corruption, Ex-Minister Arias seeks asylum in the US: media reports

The request was submitted in Miami, Florida, and could take between six months and a year to be processed.  In the meantime, Arias can not be extradited or deported to Colombia, according to El Colombiano.

Arias was found guilty of embezzling over $25 million through an agricultural subsidy program called Agro Ingreso Seguro (AIS).

MORE: Former Colombian minister found guilty of embezzling $25M

Prosecutors successfully demonstrated that the former minister under ex-President Alvaro Uribe had funneled state subsidies from the Agro Ingreso Seguro (AIS) program that were intended for poor farmers, but instead were given to wealthy and politically powerful families, a beauty queen, and even former paramilitaries.

Colombia’s Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez banned Arias from office for 16 years after the scandal broke. If Arias returns to Colombia, he will be facing 17 years, 5 months and 8 days in prison for his role in the AIS scandal.

Sources

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