Alejandro Char (Photo: Semana)

The ex-mayor of Barranquilla has been banned from public office for the next five years and fined $252,000 following his mishandling of public money in 2011, confirmed the Inspector General’s Office Monday.

The sanctions against Alejandro Char, former mayor of the capital of the Atlantico State, came following the misuse of public funds intended to pay for food and cleaning supplies in preparation for the winter rainy season of 2011. The money was instead used to pay for housing rent allowances.

The ex-mayor was found guilty of signing a contract with the family welfare fund Caja de Compensacion de Barranquilla (Combarranquilla), which then distributed vouchers for housing aid rather than completing contract requirements with Colombia Humanitaria – a state anti-crisis strategy. The welfare fund was also sanctioned to fines.

Char has the option to shorten his ban from public office, in accordance with Colombian law, should he pay the full fine before the five years are over.

The sanctions follow confirm an initial verdict that was given by the Comptroller’s Office at a public hearing on March 15, 2013.

The Inspector General’s Office is also investigating the possibility that Char signed contracts with the Colombian supermarket and drugstore chain Olimpica, which is owned by his family.

This is not the first time the ex-mayor comes under the public eye for mismanagement of public money. In 2012, he was summoned to court under suspicion of wasting $5.6 million in incomplete public road works.

Everardo Murillo, the manager of the National Calamity Fund, will also be investigated for suspected abuse of authority.

Alejandro Char was mayor of Barranquilla from 2008 to 2011, and a member of the Colombian center-right Radical Change Party.

MORE: Alejandro Char new president of Radical Change Party


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