Colombian ex-minister banned from public service

July 19, 2011 21:01

BOGOTA - Colombia's Solicitor General's office banned a former agriculture minister from public service for 16 years on Tuesday over a subsidy scandal, the latest involving appointees of former President Alvaro Uribe.

Since the last years of his presidency, Uribe and his government's officials have been under pressure from scandals including giving agricultural subsidies to supporters, allegedly wiretapping opponents and killing civilians then dressing them up as insurgents.

Former Agriculture Minister Andres Felipe Arias was banned from public office for his oversight over the improper disbursement of farming subsidies worth about $3.8 million. Arias is known as "Uribito," or little Uribe, for acting and looking like his former boss Uribe.

Arias, 38, was the agriculture minister from 2005 until 2009 when he quit to prepare his own presidential bid.

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