Colombia Brokerage Firm Accused of Laundering Drug Money

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Colombian officials say that Interbolsa, a large brokerage firm that collapsed under mysterious circumstances last year, may have laundered money for international drug trafficking organizations.

Colombia’s Assistant Attorney General, Jorge Perdomo, said there were “serious indications… that Interbolsa laundered money.” Prosecutors in the country are reportedly investigating whether the firm oversaw transactions for drug traffickers including Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, and Daniel “El Loco” Barrera, formerly one of Colombia’s most powerful criminals until his capture last year

Interbolsa once handled 50,000 clients before it was liquidated in November 2012. Since then, investigators have accused the firm of manipulating shares, fraud, and tax evasion. Lawmakers have also accused financial regulators of failing to take action regarding Interbolsa’s shady business practices despite knowing about them for some time.

InSight Crime Analysis

Perdomo’s remarks is among the most explicit assertions yet that Interbolsa handled cash linked to the drug trade. This will likely further boost suspicions that “poor management” is not the only reason the firm went under year. 

The ongoing investigation into Interbolsa’s dealings will further highlight the need for better financial oversight in Colombia. This also became clear when Colombia arrested and extradited a select group of former brokers to the US last year, where they are accused of laundering cash on behalf of drug trafficking organizations. One of these brokers (who remains in Colombia for now) is Carlos Leyton Sinisterra, who at one point worked for two firms that were subsidiaries of Interbolsa. This raises additional questions about just how expansive was this network of Colombian brokerage firms which engaged in illicit activity. 

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