HomeNewsBriefColombia Dismantles Corrupt Asset Seizure Program
BRIEF

Colombia Dismantles Corrupt Asset Seizure Program

COLOMBIA / 7 OCT 2014 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

Colombia's Justice Minister has announced the dissolution of the National Narcotics Directorate (DNE), a move meant to clean up corruption with regards to the country's property seizure law, and may yet prove to be more than a symbolic change.

Justice Minister Yesid Reyes told El Pais that the DNE was liquidated on September 30, ending a protracted process to shut down the government body formerly responsible for handling assets seized from drug traffickers. It has been replaced by the Special Assets Association (SAE), which became active in July. 

The SAE will handle assets seized under Colombia's property seizure law (Ley de Extincion de Dominio), while the Justice Ministry will continue to handle judicial processes for seizure cases, reported El Espectador. The SAE is linked to the Housing Ministry but is a partly private body -- a structure that an unidentified government official told El Espectador was intended to prevent political interference in the management of seized assets.

According to government figures, approximately 70,000 properties formerly in the hands of the DNE have been transferred to the SAE, reported El Espectador.

InSight Crime Analysis

President Juan Manuel Santos initiated the process to shut down the DNE in 2011, after it was found that billions of dollars in seized assets had gone missing since the agency was created in 1990. As part of the scandal, two high-level DNE officials and numerous congressmen were investigated for funneling seized drug funds into personal accounts.

The question now is whether this represents a real shake-up in how Colombia deals with asset seizures, or if it's merely a symbolic gesture. The fact that it's not just a name change -- the structure of the agency is also being rehauled --  is a good sign in this regard.

Colombia has also moved to address other factors that have limited the effectiveness of its asset seizure legislation, which was the first of its kind in Latin America. Amendments to the property seizure law that were enacted in January are expected to cut in half the time it takes to complete asset seizure cases, Colombia's former vice prosecutor general recently told InSight Crime

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profiles

However, there are still some problems with enforcing the law. According to El Pais, only 18 percent of seized assets have actually been claimed by the government, while the rest are still tied up in litigation. But the problems don't stop when litigation ends -- Additionally, once the judicial process is finalized, not only can corruption in the handling of assets be an issue -- it remains difficult for the Colombian government to auction off the seized assets

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COCAINE / 19 NOV 2015

A huge cocaine processing complex run by the ELN has been found in west Colombia, showcasing the guerrilla group's role…

COLOMBIA / 11 JUL 2018

Nightly clashes between criminal gangs and a questionable police operation have engulfed one of Colombia’s most famous neighborhoods, with residents…

COLOMBIA / 14 DEC 2018

The city of Cali in Colombia is on track to see a drop in homicides for the fifth straight year,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…