No ransom paid for freed Chinese hostages, says oil company

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 December, 2012, 10:32am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 December, 2012, 1:14pm

No ransom was paid to secure the release of four Chinese oil workers freed last month after being held hostage for more than a year, the company said Friday, rejecting allegations to the contrary.

“We haven’t paid a single peso, we haven’t been in talks with armed groups operating outside of the law,” Emerald Energy corporate affairs manager Juan Manuel Cuellar told a local radio station.

Colombia’s former president Alvaro Uribe wrote in a Twitter message that the company paid the FARC more than US$2 million to free the Chinese hostages, without backing up the claim.

The Chinese workers, kidnapped in June of last year, were turned over to representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross by unidentified men dressed in civilian clothes on November 22.

The ex-hostages worked for Emerald Energy oil company, a Britain-based subsidiary of the Chinese group Sinochem. They quickly left Colombia without talking to reporters.

The identity of the kidnappers was never revealed, but officials widely blamed FARC rebels.

The Colombian government has warned that any foreign company paying a ransom to rescue abducted workers would be expelled.