Photo via Telam

Former Vice President Amado Boudou is in court today facing the beginning of a trial against him, a situation we are more than likely to see again in the future. In this case, he has been accused of altering the papers of a car he had bought in the 1990’s to avoid splitting it with his now ex-wife in the divorce settlement. This is by far the least serious charge he is facing, but it could still put him behind bars anyway because if he is found guilty, he could get up to six years in prison. In Argentina, convicted felons are only eligible for parole if they are sentenced to three years or less.

According to the investigation conducted by Federal Judge Claudio Bonadío, the documents making the purchase official had a signature that wasn’t his and his address, allegedly taken from his ID, didn’t exist. Moreover, the judge concluded that he lied about the date when he bought it. And argued that he didn’t have the necessary form certified by the person who sold it to him either.

When testifying on his involvement in the case, Boudou deflected arguing he didn’t know the people in charge of the operation and said they had been hired by his ex-wife. “I was the victim of a criminal network,” he said. Neither the judge nor the prosecutor seemed to believed him and sent him to trial, along with those who conducted the purchase and his partner at the time of allegedly committing the crime — they are not together anymore.

Taking into account how slow legal processes in Argentina are, it will be long until the tripartite tribunal determines Boudou’s fate. Prosecutor Stella Maris Scandura will first call the witnesses she deems pertinent. Based on that, she will define whether to press charges, and, eventually, request a certain sentence that the court will have to evaluate.

Prosecutor Scandura. Photo via Nuevo Diario Web
Prosecutor Scandura. Photo via Nuevo Diario Web

This, however, is the lowest-profile case Boudour is facing, as the other ones that have him in hot water are investigating whether he embezzled public funds in quite a few different manners.

The most (in)famous one is the so-called “Ciccone Case,” where the former Vice President has been accused of allegedly using his influence as a public official to buy the Ciccone printing company (which had the technology to print currency and other government-issued documents) in order to award it state contracts. Boudou has long denied any wrongdoing.

Judge in the case Ariel Lijo has already accepted the request of Prosecutor Jorge Di Lello for the case to be sent to trial. In a 243-page-long request Di Lello once more determined there’s enough evidence to conclude that Boudou is guilty of getting power over Ciccone through illegal means.

This is how it would have worked: back in 2010, when he was the Economy minister, Boudou instructed the national tax collecting agency (AFIP) to call a special moratorium on the company to help it finance its debt. At the time, the company was experiencing financial difficulties.

Ciccone printing company, then renamed Compañía de Valores Sudamericana
Ciccone printing company, then renamed Compañía de Valores Sudamericana

But he didn’t do it out of the kindness of his heart: Boudou allegedly planned to get 70 percent of the company’s stock from the owner, Nicolás Ciccone, “in exchange for lifting it out of bankruptcy, approving the moratorium and injecting it with funds in order to recover its productivity.”

According to the prosecutor, Boudou ended up buying Ciccone through a phantom company named “The Old Fund” using cash “that is presumed to have had illegal origins” (this could imply that the money was embezzled or obtained in other illicit ways).

A year after the company got out of bankruptcy, Ciccone, re-named “Compañía de Valores Sudamericana,” got a contract to print 500 million AR $100 bills: a deal worth almost US $55 million.