Former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, as well as her children Máximo and Florencia, have been called to testify on November 9 regarding their involvement in the Hotesur case, in which they have been formally accused of taking part in a money laundering scheme using the family owned hotel — called Alto Calafate — as a front. Associate businessman Lázaro Báez was also called to testify, along with thirteen other suspects.
The former president has been summoned to testify before Federal Judge Julián Ercolini, who made the decision to question her following two requests from Prosecutors Gerardo Pollicita and Ignacio Mahiques.
The prosecutors are trying to determine whether the Kirchner administration knowingly and unlawfully gave the green light to Báez in obtaining 80 percent of the public works project that were supposed to be carried out in Santa Cruz Province between 2003 and 2015 — which amount to AR $16 billion — in order to get a percentage of the benefits back and thus embezzle public funds. Báez would have paid these benefits by renting thousands of rooms in the Kirchner family’s hotel that would later not be used.
According to the prosecutors’ investigation, members of the Kirchner administration appointed people to several government positions which managed public works contracts that were later given to Báez: “This way, once the structure was set up, the next stage involved choosing the territory where the operation would be carried out. As we said, it consisted in concentrating the largest sum of State funds destined to public works in one place: Santa Cruz.”
It’s unlikely this round of testimonies will bring a breakthrough in the case. The former president, like the rest of the defendants, has always refused to answer the Judge’s questions and instead continues to present written statements claiming they are victims of a judicial persecution orchestrated by their political enemies.
However, in the judicial world, this move is considered to be the previous step to indictment. We’ll see what Ercolini decides after November.