Justice Minister Germán Garavano issued a warning today that if Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, the company at center of the corruption scandal known as Lava Jato, doesn’t inform the Argentine government who the recipients of the US$ 35 million dollars in bribes were, they could be taken off the contacts they are currently involved in.
However, Odebrecht’s lawyers in Argentina don’t intend let this happen, and proposed reaching a plea deal equivalent to the one the company got in Brazil, or at least something that resembles it in the Argentine legal system. According to Clarín, the company offered to provide the needed information and pay a fine — its amount would still have to be determined — in exchange for not being taken off the projects they currently have and be allowed to continue bidding for new contracts in the future.
The main problem with reaching a deal, so far, is a legal hurdle. In an interview with Radio Mitre, Justice Minister Germán Garavano said that Odebrecht’s proposal “is based on the Brazilian legal system, which is different to ours, especially when it comes to companies providing information in these cases.”
“There’s the largest inconvenience. We will review the agreement with the different competent government bodies, in order to guarantee the legality and transparency of the process,” he added. Garavano will meet with officials of the Anti-Corruption office (OA) and the head of the executive branch’s lawyers body, Bernardo Saravia Frías, to analyze the offer. According to La Nación, the deal could be signed on Friday.
Last week, National Deputy and co-founder of the Cambiemos coalition, Elisa “Lilita” Carrió, publicly denounced that practically the entire political spectrum was actively working towards preventing the names of the people who received the bribes from surfacing.
- Read more: Who Could Be Affected By The Odebrecht Case?
She argued this was the case because not only members of the former administration, but business leaders and current government officials are involved. But more importantly, because this case would see the former Planning minister during the Kirchner administrations, Julio De Vido, in hot water. And Carrió assures that if De Vido, in charge of awarding public works between 2003 and 2015, decided to reach a plea deal, he would reveal that practically all business and political leaders of the country who ever were — or are — involved in a corrupt act one way or another.
As is usually the case, Carrió’s statements caused a bit of a political earthquake. President Mauricio Macri himself — a fire lit under his, let’s say chair — came out to deny this was the case and instructed his administration to get the information as fast as possible.
The official explanation for the delay pinned the blame on General Prosecutor Alejandra Gils Carbo, the only current high ranking official who was appointed by former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who held on to her post by tooth and nail. Different government officials argued that she instructed the prosecutors investigating Odebrecht’s different cases to stall.
Even though the Executive Branch acted in a parallel to the Judiciary, using its own legal tools, Garavano denied the two branches are at odds when it comes to this issue. “We are glad that the judiciary tried to move forwards with this because of our initiative,” said Garavano. We’ll leave the analysis about whether this was passive aggressive to you. Friday is looming large, and there are probably more than one set of eyes is closely following the outcome of the meeting between Odebrecht and the government.