Former Planning Minister Julio de Vido has been indicted in connection with an Odebrecht graft investigation by Federal Judge Daniel Rafecas.
De Vido, who is currently in pre-trial detention and is facing a litany of corruption accusations, was indicted along with other Cristina Fernández de Kirchner officials such as ex Energy secretary Daniel Cameron and ex undersecretaries for Electrical Energy and Fuels, Bautista Marcheschi and Cristián Alberto Folgar. De Vido was planning minister throughout both Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administrations.
The defendants were indicted of negotiations incompatible with public service and face a prison sentence of six years if convicted, as well as a lifetime ban from working in public office.
Rafecas found that there was sufficient evidence showing that the defendants participated in a scheme in which De Vido “created the normative framework so that the Energy Secretariat, in negotiation with Odebrecht, went forward with a ‘private call for bids’ which instead of being carried out by the private licensees TGN and TGS as had been done before, was carried out by the mixed company Cammesa, which was finally adjudicated the the business, in a suspicious process, to Odebrecht.”
The business in question was an expansion of natural gas pipelines in the period 2006-2008, which was initially budgeted at US $2.3 billion and was carried out exclusively by Odebrecht. The company at the heart of the Lava Jato scandal in Brazil has admitted to paying bribes across Latin America in order to win public works contracts.
The judge found that the call for bids was answered by the companies Odebrecht, Camargo Correa and Roggio but that deadlines and demands “could only be met by Odebrecht, who thus was given the work.” Rafecas described the competition as “merely formal” in order to give the appearance of being a legitimate bid. Changes in the rules of bidding process were also pointed to as evidence of corruption. Such was the scope of the proposed works that De Vido as minister could not have been in the dark about the alleged irregularities, argued Rafecas.
Rafecas found that the “entire the bidding process was was directed from the very beginning to the awarding of the contract to Odebrecht.” In the same ruling, Rafecas dropped charges against two Cammesa executives, whom he found not criminally responsible for the alleged maneuver.
The investigation into suspected bribes and the payment of the pipelines is being led by Federal Judge Marcelo Martínez de Giorgi.