This information is derived from the State Department's Office of Investment Affairs Investment Climate Statement. Any questions on the ICS can be directed to
Last Published: 7/31/2017
Corruption is a serious obstacle for companies operating or planning to invest in Colombia.  According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Index (2016-2017), corruption is the second most problematic factor affecting competitiveness, following high tax rates.  The NGO Transparency International reported that Colombian citizens’ perception of the level of corruption in the country remained high in 2016, and a February 2017 Gallup poll showed it as the number one problem facing Colombia according to Colombians polled.  In 2016 Colombia ties for 90 out of 176 countries in the Transparency International rankings, falling from 83 in 2015.

In December 2016, one of the biggest corporate corruption cases in history broke when the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Brazil-based construction conglomerate Odebrecht had paid USD 800 million in bribes over six years regionally, including USD 11 million in Colombia, in order to win infrastructure contracts.  The case has generated intense media coverage in Colombia as several senior members of both the Santos and Uribe administrations have come under investigation.  On March 14, President Santos acknowledged that Odebrecht illegally donated funds to his 2010 campaign, though he denied awareness of the act at the time.  His opponent in the 2014 election, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, has withdrawn from the 2018 election after being implicated in the scandal.  Two high-priority infrastructure projects are on hold as a result of the corruption revelations, though other highway modernization projects critical to implementation of the peace continue.  Corruption appears likely to be a high-profile issue in 2018 presidential and legislative elections, with candidates potentially seeking to distance themselves from the Colombian president. 

In response to the scandal, in January 2017 President Santos issued decree 092 to prohibit direct public contracts with non-profit organizations.  The Secretariat for Transparency estimates that more than USD 400 million in public resources are committed to contracts with foundations and NGOs; contracting with these entities has commonly been abused to steal public resources.  President Santos also announced the introduction of two anticorruption bills before Congress, one to set up fully public registers of company owners (a commitment made in May 2016 during the Anticorruption Summit in London) and the other to revise the penalties in corruption offenses.

Colombia has adopted the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and is a member of the OECD Anti-Bribery Committee.  It has signed and ratified the UN Anticorruption Convention.  Additionally, it has adopted the Organization of American States (OAS) Convention against Corruption.  The CTPA protects the integrity of procurement practices and criminalizes both offering and soliciting bribes to/from public officials.  It requires both countries to make all laws, regulations, and procedures regarding any matter under the CTPA publicly available.  Both countries must also establish procedures for reviews and appeals by any entities affected by actions, rulings, measures, or procedures under the CTPA.
Colombia still needs to improve legislation for the protection of whistleblowers and more transparent and reliable systems for public tenders.  In August 2016, the government introduced a bill to congress outlining protections for whistleblowers.  As of April 2017, congress has not debated the proposed bill.  According to the 2016 report from the National Civil Commission for Fighting Corruption (CNCLCC), Colombia has made progress with the issuance of an anti-bribery law (enacted in February 2016 and in force starting March 2017) as part of the commitments for the accession to the OECD.  The law establishes that the penal responsibilities can be transferred from the employees to companies, including managers and contractors bribing public servants of a foreign country. 
Resources to Report Corruption
Colombian Transparency and Anti-Corruption Observatory
The National Civil Commission for Fighting Corruption (CNCLCC)
The Presidential Secretariat of Transparency
Transparencia por Colombia, the national chapter of Transparency International

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