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Banco Agrario denies loss of 135B pesos in loans tied to Odebrecht unit Navelena

Banco Agrario de Colombia SA denied allegations appearing in an audit made by the comptroller general of Colombia that the bank lost 135.81 billion Colombian pesos as of March on loans granted to troubled construction consortium Navelena, which is owned by scandal-plagued multinational company Odebrecht.

In a June 2 statement, Banco Agrario said the defaulted 120 billion Colombian pesos that the state-run bank granted in loans to Navelena were not lost, as they are guaranteed by Fiduciaria de Occidente, a trust fund unit of Banco de Occidente SA. Banco Agrario said a contract with the trust fund was still in place and current and default interests were also guaranteed.

The bank said it estimated that the funds would return to Banco Agrario in October, at the latest, along with interest.

Banco Agrario added that lending credits are not derived from state funds, but are from banking operations and therefore any loans to Navelena could not have generated a negative impact on the Colombian state's finances.

The bank also said it had followed all rules and policies when it granted the loans to the construction firm related to Navalena's contract to restore the Magdalena River waterway in Colombia at a total cost of about 2.5 trillion pesos.

The comptroller general on June 1 said that the loans should not have been granted by the bank due to Odebrecht's reputation, noting that it was already known that five Odebrecht executives have been detained for bribery scandals when the credits were granted in June 2015.

As of June 5, US$1 was equivalent to 2,897.58 Colombian pesos.