BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday acknowledged that funds were illegally obtained during his 2010 election campaign and asked the nation's forgiveness for the "shameful" act.
Santos, who ran for office in 2010 and 2014 said he "rejects and condemns" the illegal payments and said he had no knowledge and did not authorize any funds that were illegally obtained during the campaign.
"I am deeply sorry and ask forgiveness to Colombians for this shameful act that should never have happened and that I have just learned about," Santos said in a statement.
He has called for a thorough investigation of both his election campaigns after allegations they received money from Brazil's Odebrecht. He asked those involved to clarify what happened as soon as possible.
Santos did not mention Odebrecht in his statement.
U.S. prosecutors have alleged that Odebrecht paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes in association with infrastructure projects in 12 countries, including Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela, between 2002 and 2016.
Santos's 2014 rival is also facing investigation by electoral authorities for allegedly receiving Odebrecht money. Oscar Ivan Zuluaga was the candidate of the right-wing Democratic Center opposition party.
(Reporting by Helen Murphy; Editing by Richard Chang)