Víctor Manzanares, the accountant for the Kirchner family, has recently told investigators that he amended the books for the Hotesur business, changing the figures in the company’s financial account with whiteout upon request from the former President.
The man, accused of obstructing justice in a separate case known as “Los Sauces” and currently in custody, denied that the changes were “malicious.”
According to state-run news agency Télam, Manzanares told Federal Judge Julián Ercolini about the amendments after being questioned from Prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita on December 12. Ercolini is investigating the Hotesur hotel records and has charged Cristina Fernández de Kirchner with money-laundering. The suspicion is that businessmen Lázaro Báez and Cristóbal López directed kickbacks obtained through fraudulent public works contracts to the Kirchner family through hotel stays. Both López and Báez are currently in custody for other criminal cases.
In the testimony obtained by Télam, Manzanares said that as an accountant, he was in charge of “the control and drafting of Hotesur SA’s accounting.” As such, Manzanares said that he had made amendments with whiteout after being asked to do so by Fernández de Kirchner. The testimony indicates that Manzanares explained that “Hotesur S.A. is a family business,” and that he prepared the standard documentation it needed. He indicated that after the death of (Néstor) Kirchner, he put into the records that Cristina Fernández, Florencia Kirchner and Máximo Kirchner attended the shareholder meetings. Romina Mercado, niece to the former President and president of Hotesur, then showed those records to Fernández de Kirchner “who indicated that it should state that it was Máximo Kirchner representing himself and on behalf of his father’s inheritance who attended the meetings.”
The former president as well as her two adult children have been questioned in the case and have denied any kind of wrongdoing.
- AMIA Arrest Order Upheld, Treason Charges Dropped
The testimony came on the heels of yesterday’s decision by an appeals court to uphold a pre-trial arrest order against the former president in relation to the AMIA cover-up case, which was first ordered by Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio. The appeals court dismissed the charge of treason and changed it to cover-up and abuse of authority.
The appeals court agreed with the defendants that treason charges were not applicable because a state of war had not been declared. The change in charges implies a lower maximum prison sentence if the defendants are convicted, dropping from 25 years to 12 years. However, the charges are not definitive, since the case remains in the investigation phase and as such, can be changed again.
Fernández de Kirchner currently enjoys immunity from arrest as a senator, and while the Senate can lift the immunity, so far, there doesn’t seem to be appetite for such a move in the Senate. The appeals court upheld pre-trial detention for the other defendants in the case, which include Héctor Timerman, Luis D’Elía, Carlos Zannini, Fernando Esteche, and Jorge Khalil, as well as the indictments against other Kirchnerite figures.
The bad judicial news for the Kirchner family continued today with news of the arrest of Carlos Kirchner, a cousin of late Néstor Kirchner. A warrant was issued after a judge found that he had taken measures to hide his assets and determined him to be a flight risk. Carlos Kirchner, who used to have a position in the Planning Ministry, has been indicted for fraud with regard to public works.