March 13, 2017 / 11:08 PM / 3 years ago

Colombian officials probed for overspending on Reficar refinery

BOGOTA, March 13 (Reuters) - Dozens of Colombian officials, including Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas, are being investigated for overspending of about $6 billion during the renovation of state oil company Ecopetrol’s refinery Reficar, the comptroller general’s office said on Monday.

Cardenas and other Ecopetrol and Reficar board members may have to pay back money if found responsible for the “damage to patrimony” the overspending caused, Comptroller General Edgardo Maya told reporters in Bogota.

Among the 47 named officials, are former finance minister and current head of Ecopetrol Juan Carlos Echeverry, Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas and central bank board member Ana Fernanda Maiguashca.

The officials will be called to explain why they approved certain expenses that doubled the $3.46 billion initial estimate for renovation, Maya said.

The government has said bad management by contractors was responsible for costs on the refinery in northern Cartagena.

Improvements to the refinery, which reopened in late 2015, were aimed at doubling capacity to 165,000 barrels per day. (Reporting by Carlos Vargas and Helen Murphy; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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