QCOSTARICA – According to a recent report, a leader of Colombian guerrilla group, the FARC has multi-million dollar properties in Costa Rica, raising questions regarding the origin of these assets, and what will happen to the guerrilla group’s finances should it eventually demobilize.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC) owns luxury properties worth US$30 million in Costa Rica, the Colombian Prosecutor General’s Office and the Costa Rican Attorney General’s Office reportedly revealed to RCN Noticias.
The real estate is allegedly under the ownership of family members of Jorge Torres Victoria, alias “Pablo Catatumbo,” a member of the FARC’s Secretariat and a negotiator in the peace talks with the Colombian government.
The deputy head of Costa Rica’s Attorney General’s Office told RCN Noticias, “There are suspicions that members of the FARC and drug trafficking groups have moved to Costa Rica to invest money originating from their drug trafficking or terrorist activities.”
“We haven’t dismissed the presence of the FARC in Costa Rica to regroup, to plan other strategies,” Gamboa added. “They have been in the country, we’ve documented it.”
However, Gamboa later told Diario de las Americas that the government does not have any conclusive evidence on Pablo Catatumbo’s case and is not carrying out an investigation.
Semana magazine later reported that the Colombian Prosecutor General’s Office had merely asked the Costa Rican government whether it had any knowledge of the guerrilla group’s assets in its territory.
As the FARC have long denied that they have money stashed away in Colombia or abroad, revelations of million-dollar assets kept abroad could be a blow to the guerrilla group’s image, as well as to their credibility in peace talks. In a recent interview with BBC, chief FARC negotiator Luciano Marín Arango, alias “Iván Márquez,” stated the following:
“The FARC does not have any money … All of the FARC’s bank accounts in tax havens can be seized and allocated to the victim reparation fund … But the fact is that we don’t have any.”
The reports in RCN Noticias and Semana also raise a larger question of what will happen to established FARC assets, following their likely demobilization. The Colombian government recently claimed that it will begin seizing over$20.3 million worth of assets from the guerrilla group following the signing of a peace agreement — a figure that is still only a fraction of the over $200 million that the FARC are thought to earn yearly from the drug trade.
However, these moves are limited to Colombian territory, so it remains to be seen whether action will be taken against FARC-related assets in other countries.
While allegations that the FARC owns property in Costa Rica remain inconclusive, evidence of similar FARC operations have appeared before. In 2015, the Colombian Prosecutor General’s Office discovered that money laundered by the FARC was reaching Costa Rica, where family members of Pablo Catatumbo allegedly managed the investment of tens of millions of dollars in properties and fishing companies. The FARC have also accused of using Costa Rica as a refuge and setting up drug and arms trafficking networks through the country.
Sources: Insightcrime.org, RCN noticias, Diario de Las Americas