Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The Colombian state attorney's office is examining why deadly cyanide was present at the home of a leading witness in a case related to Brazilian-based Odebrecht, a company involved in bribe-for-contracts schemes across Latin America.
The state attorney's office started investigating after Alejandro Pizano died last weekend after he drank liquid he found on the desk of his father, Jorge Pizano, a former comptroller in a highway construction project and key witness in the Odebrecht case who'd died three days earlier.
Tests showed Alejandro Pizano's death was due to "cyanide poisoning," the state attorney's office said. Investigators are now trying to figure out why the poison was even there.
Alejandro Pizano was in Colombia for his father's funeral. He died of a heart attack Thursday, El Colombiano reported.
At the time of this death, Jorge Pizano was a key witness against the former head of a state agency in charge of infrastructure projects, and was himself being investigated as part of a 2017 bribery probe related to Odebrech, LaFM media reported Tuesday.
Jorge Pizano, who was ill with terminal cancer, made news in recent days because of an audio recording he provided to news media. In the three-year-old recording was evidence he spoke with Colombian State Attorney Nestor Martinez when Martinez was a company official involved in a project involving Odebrecht. Pizano alerted him about his suspicions of irregularities by Odebrecht. Martinez never notified authorities.
The conversation occurred before the arrest in Brazil of Marcelo Odebrecht, when news of the company's corruption schemes led to a series of investigations in many countries.
After the audio was released last weekend, Martinez said he'd asked Pizano if he was "certain" the irregularities he found were "bribes." Pizano answered he was not, which Martinez said is why he didn't notify Colombian authorities.
When the recording was made in 2015, Martinez was a juridical adviser of Corficolombiana, a partner of Odebrecht, El Espectador reported Tuesday. He became state attorney general in 2016.
After the audio was made public, Martinez said the Brazilian company did not admit to illegal payments but was willing to pay for any questioned contracts.
Odebrecth has been involved in investigations in several countries that started after Brazilian authorities discovered schemes in which former company officials bribed government officers in exchange for infrastructure projects.
The Odebrecht-related investigations have affected leaders and former leaders across the region. The testimony of former CEO Marcelo Odebrecht, who's serving a 19-year sentence in Brazil, has led to detention and lawsuits against former presidents, political leaders and other high-ranking authorities.