Colombia Could Expel Foreign Oil Firm Over Suspected FARC Payment

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Colombia’s government said it will expel a foreign oil company from the country if reports are confirmed that it made a ransom payment to the FARC rebel group.

President Juan Manuel Santos said the authorities were investigating reports that a foreign contractor for a multinational firm had paid a ransom to the rebels. He warned that if the allegations were found to be true, the oil multinational would be expelled from the country.

Neither the company’s name nor the amount paid have been revealed. 

Santos spoke of the dangers of paying ransoms to the FARC, ELN or drug gangs, warning that it “encourages crime” and funds illegal activity against the state. Colombian law prohibits any payment of ransoms to kidnappers.

The Colombian Petroleum Association, which represents foreign oil companies operating in the country, has asked the government to clarify the allegations. The group’s head, Alejandro Martinez, said that the entire oil sector in Colombia is “in the dock” and called for the government to name the contractor at the centre of the allegations.

Santos had previously warned multinational companies operating in Colombia that they risked expulsion from the country if they paid ransoms to secure the release of kidnapped employees, following the kidnapping of 23 oil workers in Vichada, eastern Colombia, in March.

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