Federal Judge Ariel Lijo today determined that former Vice President Amado Boudou will face trial for allegedly using his influence as a public official to buy the Ciccone printing company (which had the technology to print currency and other government-issued documents) in order to award it State contracts.
Lijo rejected the latest appeal presented by Boudou’s defense team. He’s charged with taking bribes and engaging in “incompatible negotiations with a public official.” The case will now be taken to a tripartite court, which will issue a sentence after listening to witnesses and both parties’ arguments.
Both crimes would bring about sentences of up to six years. Should he be found guilty, Boudou could actually spend time behind bars, considering that in the Argentine criminal system convicted felons only get probation if they are sentenced to three years or less in prison.
The Ciccone Case
Back in 2010, when he was the Economy Minister for the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration, Boudou instructed the national tax collecting agency (AFIP) to call a special moratorium on the company to help it finance its debt. At the time, the company was experiencing financial difficulty.
But it doesn’t look like he did it out of the kindness of his heart: Boudou allegedly planned to get 70 percent of the company’s stock from the owner, Nicolás Ciccone, “in exchange for lifting it out of bankruptcy, approving the moratorium and injecting it with funds so as to recover its productivity.”
According to the prosecutor, Boudou ended up buying Ciccone through a phantom company named “The Old Fund,” with money “that is presumed to have had illegal origins” (this could imply that the money was embezzled or obtained in other illicit ways).
And that’s not all: once he had acquired the company, he would have allegedly used his influence as a public official to award it State contracts. A year after the company was lifted out of bankruptcy, Ciccone, re-baptized “Compañía de Valores Sudamericana,” got a contract to print 500 million AR $100 bills: a deal worth almost US $55 million.
Boudou initially denied having anything to do with either the case or the company, and accused the media of mounting a smear campaign against him. In 2012, when he was Vice President, he called journalists to Congress to publicly defend himself: “There was no wrongdoing during my tenure as Economy Minister. I didn’t do anything to favor Ciccone, all I did was answer a memo AFIP sent me.”
However, the case moved forward: in 2014 Boudou was called into questioning by Federal Judge Ariel Lijo and he was prosecuted later that year. Predictably, he appealed the decision, but both the Federal and Cassation Courts arrived to the same conclusion at every step of the investigation and found him guilty. Boudou will now have a final chance to defend himself before the criminal tribunal, which will issue a definitive sentence.
However, even though the word definitive sounds definitive, this is still another step in the criminal case allowing Boudou to appeal the ruling.
The former Vice President is already facing another trial, in which he has been accused of altering the papers of a car he had bought in the 1990’s to avoid splitting it with his now ex-wife in the divorce settlement.