Leonardo Fariña, one of the main suspects in the Lázaro Báez Case — the money laundering scheme also known as the “K Money Trail” several high-profile Kirchnerite politicians such as former Presidents Néstor and Cristina Kirchner are accused of having orchestrated — was released from prison yesterday. If you’re thinking, “Big whoop,” this is actually significant because it further indicates that Fariña is cooperating with the investigation and may be revealing a whole bunch of details that are probably causing several individuals implicated in the case to feel very uneasy.
Here’s a summary of what the whole case is about: Lázaro Báez, a businessman, was contracted by the Kirchner administrations to carry out public infrastructure work. He is accused of having charged excessive prices for his services and then of having laundered the “dirty” money by reinserting it into various fronts such as the Alto Calafate Hotel owned by the Kirchners.
Fariña was Báez’s accountant back then and for this reason was indicted by Judge Sebastián Casanello in 2013, under suspicion of having moved the ill-gotten wealth from one place to another in the laundering scheme. In fact, it’s rumored he had to move sums of money so big that he had to carry them in suitcases, hence his nickname, the “Suitcase Man.” Creative, I know.
Last week, Fariña appeared in court to testify in the case, at which point he requested he be able to speak under the “Repentance Law” which would allow him to see a reduced sentence in exchange for cooperating with the investigation and offering up sensitive information (a plea bargain, essentially). His request was granted. Acting as a whistle blower, Fariña implicated Néstor and Cristina Kirchner in the case and said that the presidential couple was responsible for leading the money laundering organization that “looted” State coffers. His shocking statements prompted Prosecutor Guillermo Marijuán to formally indict Cristina.
To make the story all the more confusing, this whole time Fariña had been in prison while an entirely different case was being investigated (concerning tax evasion). He hadn’t been found guilty of this charge, but the judge presiding over that case thought there was reason to believe he might try to flee, so he was put behind bars.
But now, after his statements regarding the K Money Trail case, Fariña was freed and was placed under witness protection yesterday. Basically, given his new status as a protected witness, the La Plata courthouse where he’d been held doesn’t think there’s a chance he could try to flee since police will be with him literally 24/7.
No such luck for Báez, who was arrested on April 5th to prevent him from fleeing after being indicted in the K Money Trail Case. His lawyer also requested he be released but that request has been denied. Báez will remain behind bars for the time being.