“Lázaro Báez is not my business partner nor my friend,” former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner said yesterday after testifying for the first time in a corruption case. Santiago Viola, the lawyer representing three of his children — Leandro, Melina and Luciana — begs to differ.
“There were several business in common with Cristina Kirchner. It’s in the cases’ files,” Viola said today in an interview with Radio La Red. These three Báez children, however, are not parties in the case for which the former president had to testify yesterday. Viola is representing them in another case that is also looking into whether the former president and the public works tycoon were involved in the orchestration of a massive money laundering scheme. The case is popularly known as the “K Money Trail” case and is being pushed forward by Judge Sebastián Casanello and Prosecutor Guillermo Marijuán.
These cases, as well as the others investigating alleged financial crimes — Hotesur, Los Sauces — are related and National lawmaker Margarita Stolbizer has requested they all be joined together in one so-called “mega case.” So far though they remain separate meaning that Viola has no legal involvement in the one for which Fernández testified in front of Judge Julián Ercolini yesterday.
In her testimony, Fernández requested Judge Ercolini conduct an audit of public works allocated to state contractors during her tenure as President that not only evaluates Santa Cruz and Báez, but the other provinces as well. She argues that a similar system is takes place in most jurisdictions, where the state usually awards most public works to the business leader who is more likely to see them through.
The case led by Ercolini is trying to determine whether the Kirchner administration knowingly and unlawfully gave Báez 80 percent of the public works project that were supposed to be carried out in Santa Cruz Province between 2003 and 2015. All the works amounted to AR$16 billion
Viola also uttered what sounded a lot like a thinly veiled threat, noting that Báez and his family have “a lot of information” about the Kirchners. “They had close ties for such a long time that they have a lot of information about them,” he said.
That closeness seems to have been deteriorating ever since Báez was remanded in custody in April due to his alleged involvement in the “K Money Trail” case. In fact, Leandro Báez has been actively trying to get Casanello removed as judge from the case, arguing that the investigation is solely being focused on his father in order to protect former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
- Read more: Báez Family Members Request Judge Casanello Be Removed From ‘K Money Trail’ Case For ‘Being Partial’
Following 11 simultaneous raids ordered by Judge Claudio Bonadio as part of the Los Sauces case, police found documents that seemed to confirm ties between Báez and the Kirchner family, as they showed he rented real estate properties from them. This doesn’t prove they did it to launder money, but does strongly suggest there’s a link that exceeds the public works sphere.