Valentín Díaz Gilligan, the current Undersecretary of the Presidency, has vowed to submit documentation related to money held in an undeclared Andorran account to the Anti-Corruption Office in a bid to demonstrate that he did not incur in any wrongdoing.
The move comes after Díaz Gilligan in recent days has come under fire not only from the opposition but also from some Cambiemos figures who have asked for him to take a leave of absence or resign pending an investigation.
The official has maintained that the US $1.2 million in his name was not his, that no public funds were involved and that he did not profit from the funds. Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña publicly encouraged Díaz Gilligan over the weekend to address the matter with the Anti-Corruption Office.
The brewing controversy was sparked last week after Spain’s El País reported that Díaz Gilligan hid US $1.2 million in a bank account in Andorra, a country which, until last year, had banking secrecy laws and was considered to be a tax haven. The account Díaz Gilligan was involved with was opened in 2012 and remained active until at least 2014. During that period, he held different posts at the Buenos Aires City administration, when current President Mauricio Macri was the mayor. The company was called Line Action.
Díaz Gilligan told the Spanish newspaper that the money was not his, as he only was involved in the company because he was doing a favor to a friend of his. The friend in question, he said, was Francisco “Paco” Casal, a Brazilian businessman who manages football players and owns sports TV channel GolTV.
“He was undergoing trial, as the tax collecting agency had accused him [he didn’t specify from which country], so he could not formally be a part of the company. I trusted him. The money was never mine. Besides, I did not hold public office back then. I was an external adviser,” he said.
While Government officials last week indicated that they were satisfied with Díaz Gilligan’s explanations, Peña has also indicated that there would be “no protection” for anybody in the government and that any investigations deemed necessary would be unhindered. Pressure on Díaz Gilligan has been building from within the Cambiemos coalition however, as Lawmaker Mario Negri, the Radical (UCR) chair of the Cambiemos caucus in the Lower House and Coalición Civica members closely aligned with Elisa Cariró have also urged Díaz Gilligan to step down pending an investigation.
The Coalición Cívica, Radicals and PRO are the three primary parties in the Cambiemos coalition.
In a post on social media, Negri wrote that Díaz Gilligan “should ask to be separated from his position, appear before the courts and clear things up. This is not a conviction, the ‘bar’ on transparency has been set very high by Cambiemos. This isn’t about making life difficult for the government, rather helping it.”
Diaz Guilligan, funcionario, debería pedir su separación del cargo, ir a la Justicia y aclarar su proceder. No es condena, la “vara”sobre la transparencia está puesta muy alta por parte de https://t.co/13zvgXu2kr hay que incomodar al gobierno,sino ayudarlo.
— Mario Raul Negri (@marioraulnegri) February 18, 2018
Fernando Sánchez, recently named to the Executive and a virtual spokesman for Carrió, said today he would have asked to take a leave of absence if here were in the same situation as Díaz Gilligan. He also warned that Diáz Gilligan’s situation would worsen significantly if any evidence of tax evasion was uncovered.
Paula Oliveto, another Coalición Civica stalwart, added that she thought that the courts should investigate the account, rather than the Anti-Corruption Office under the leadership of Laura Alonso.
The Anti-Corruption investigation could take up to six months to be completed.