A judicial investigation linked to the Hotesur case — investigating the alleged embezzling and money laundering moves made by former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and associated businessman Lázaro Báez — revealed how six of Báez’s companies transferred AR $27 million to bank accounts belonging to the former president, as payment of rooms in Fernández’s hotel, Alto Calafate.
The experts in the case demonstrated how several of Báez’s companies transferred at least AR $68.2 million to another of his businesses, called Valle Mitre Inc. From that company’s account, Báez transferred around AR $6 million per year to accounts belonging to Hotesur — which manages Alto Calafate — between 2009 and 2013. The contract was abruptly terminated in 2013 when the previously unknown relationship between Báez and the Kirchner family was revealed by the media.
A previous probe published by La Nación in February also revealed that Báez’s payments to Hotesur accounted for 50 percent of the Alto Calafate hotel’s billing. With this information, the prosecutor will try to prove that the money paid by Báez to rent the hotel’s rooms and ballrooms for his companies’ staff had an ulterior motive: providing kickbacks for the overinflated public work contracts his flagship company, Austral Construcciones, was granted by the Kirchner administration during its time in office.
Following this premise, then, the Alto Calafate hotel would be the front used by the former president to launder the money she embezzled by assigning Báez almost all public work contracts in the Santa Cruz province.
“The money laundering maneuver between the Kirchners and Báez is starting to be proven. Before Néstor Kirchner bought it, the Alto Calafate hotel billed AR $6 million a year. With Néstor as an owner, Báez began paying him AR $6 million but only to rent the place. The numbers don’t add up,” said Silvia Martínez, lawyer representing National Deputy Margarita Stolbizer, who pressed the charges against the former president in the first place.
Fernández has been officially charged by Judge Julián Ercolini. This evidence could prompt him to call her to testify and, if he considers there are enough grounds, indict her. In fact, she has already been indicted in a case that has the same characters and a similar M.O, called “Los Sauces.” The only difference with Hotesur is the fact that the alleged front is the former President’s company dedicated to renting real estate.