Former Argentine President to Testify in “Notebook Case”
Former Argentine President Cristina Kirchner was summoned for questioning in a breaking corruption investigation, Reuters reported Friday.
The investigation was launched by police after a ministry driver, Oscar Centeno, provided copies of detailed notes on bags of cash that he delivered over the course of a decade to the private homes of former politicians from business leaders who had been awarded government contracts.
The scandal so far has implicated two former presidents, and led to the arrests of 16 former government staff and business leaders.
The contents of the notes include deliveries made mostly to allies of the former president Nestor Kirchner, and his wife and successor Cristina Kirchner, who prosecutors believe to be the leaders of a corruption conspiracy.
Prosecutors are estimating that approximately US$160 million in bribes were paid. According to Agence France-Presse, businessman Juan Carlos de Goycoechea turned himself in to the police last week for protection under an “accused collaborator” program. He claims that during the Kirchner administration there was a pressure to give campaign contributions, and that the pressure was applied by the Planning Ministry in charge of public works contracts.
The scandal, which broke last Wednesday is rumoured to rival the Car Wash case in Brazil in scale.
The investigation is a positive feat in a country where corruption has been met with impunity, and the elite have evaded prosecution for it. For years, federal judges have deferred corruption cases until the statute of limitations expired, and the few politicians convicted have been able to stay out of jail and keep their assets. Now, one of the judges in “the notebook case” wants to remove Cristina Kirchner’s immunity from prosecution.