The Judicial branch of the Government has officially kicked off 2017 after January’s recess and judges didn’t waste time helping the most shocking cases grab the headlines again. And you know what that means: former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s face is back on every outlet.
Yesterday, Federal Judge Ariel Lijo ordered the first steps to be taken in an investigation into Alberto Nisman’s accusation against Cristina. The late Prosecutor Nisman accused the former President — as well as other high-ranking officials — of covering up Iran’s involvement in the 1994 bombing of AMIA Jewish center. Today, his colleague Claudio Bonadio called her into questioning regarding her role in the so-called “Los Sauces” case, in which she is being interrogated over money laundering allegations.
Her children Máximo and Florencia; businessmen Lázaro Báez and Cristóbal López, and others potentially involved in the case, will also be submitted Bonadio’s questioning in the upcoming weeks.
Fernández will have to make her way to the federal courthouses in Comodoro Py on March 7th, and as a result it’s likely that the Security Ministry, headed by Patricia Bullrich, will conduct a pretty weighty security operation. That same day the CGT umbrella union will stage a massive protest against the Government’s policies, so start planning your day now because moving around the city is going to be a nightmare.
What’s The Los Sauces Case All About, Again?
Los Sauces S.A. is a real estate company owned by the Kirchner family. Based in Santa Cruz, and is being investigated for allegedly embezzling State funds. Cristina, and her children Máximo and Florencia have all been formally charged due to their positions within the company.
The investigation began after former presidential candidate and Progressive Front leader Margarita Stolbizer — who was also responsible for the launch of the Hotesur investigation, another high-profile case implicating Cristina — pressed charges against Los Sauces. He claimed they had rented real estate to companies owned by the former President’s main business partners: Lázaro Báez, the main State contractor under the Kirchner administrations, and Cristóbal López, another businessman with close ties to the former administration.
The company is accused of embezzling State funds much in the same way that Cristina was accused of doing in the Hotesur Case: by putting the money into a business or organization “front.” (In the Hotesur Case, Báez’s flagship company, Austral Constructions, allegedly used rooms in the presidential family hotel Alto Calafate as the front). According to Stolbizer, Cristina would have laundered money using this same method.
“In Hotesur, favors were paid with room rentals. When it comes to Los Sauces, favors were paid with real estate rentals by Lázaro Báez and Cristóbal López’s companies,” Stolbizer charged.
Stolbizer has also accused the Kirchner family of forging legal documents in order to cover up the untoward business behind the real estate rentals.
Judge Bonadio ordered all suspects be called into questioning after receiving a report which confirmed that both Báez and López had deposited millions into Los Sauces’s bank account without any explicit justification or retribution.