It has been an intense week for former Kirchnerite officials in the judicial landscape. Yesterday, former Planning Minister Julio De Vido faced the first hearing of the trial against him for being – still allegedly – partially responsible for the Once railway tragedy, where 51 people were killed and 789 injured. And today, two different federal judges determined that former Vice President Amado Boudou and former Public Works Secretary José López will face respective trials in other corruption cases.
The first one for allegedly defrauding the State in 2009 by having the Economy Ministry buy 19 luxury cars it didn’t need. And the second one for, well, you probably remember: getting caught trying to hide roughly US $9 million in a convent that turned out not to be a convent, helped by nuns who turned out not to be nuns.
Let’s dissect both cases again, in case you don’t remember.
In September last year, Boudou was indicted by Federal Judge Sergio Torres for defrauding the state and forging of public documents, among the most relevant charges.
According to Torres, there was enough evidence to conclude that in December 2009, Boudou – then working in the Economy Ministry – ordered an arbitrary and unfounded purchase of the luxury vehicles through a private auction. Moreover, the judge concluded that the operation — which amounted to AR $2 million — was also aimed at benefiting a car dealership by the name of Guido Guidi, since the latter only held the auction once the ministry decided to conduct the purchase.
Boudou argued in a written statement that “all vehicles purchased were necessary,” that it was a “convenient purchase,” that it was carried in “accordance to the law” and that “all vehicles are functioning today.”
Judge Torres begged to disagree. In his ruling, Torres argued that Boudou also skipped the legal procedure – an open bid – to get the vehicles and even paid a higher price than the “market value for corporate purchases” at the time. One of the cars was used by Boudou for his personal use as vice president for almost two years when he was Vice President, even though they had been bought for the Economy Ministry, according to Infobae.
This will be the third time that Boudou seats in the defendant’s seat.
He’s already been acquitted in a case where he was investigated for alleged irregularities in the purchase of a car back in the 90’s to allegedly avoid splitting it with his now ex-wife during their divorce settlement, as the court determined that the statute of limitations for the case had expired and therefore he couldn’t be judged for his actions.
However, he’s still in hot water in the so-called “Ciccone case,” in which he has been accused of allegedly using his influence as a public official to buy the Ciccone printing company (which had the technology to print Argentine currency and other government-issued documents) and benefit from millionaire government contracts. Boudou has long denied any wrongdoing.
José López’s Case
The José López scandal will probably be remembered as one of the most bizarre events in Argentine political history. Basically, he was caught trying to hide roughly US $9 million in a convent that turned out not to be a convent, helped by nuns who turned out not to be nuns.
Things became even crazier after that: López tried to bribe the police officers, couldn’t, was arrested, had a nervous breakdown and started banging his head against a wall when he was about to testify before a judge, hired a lawyer called the “hot lawyer” by local media and now is under strict vigilance in the psychiatric wing of Ezeiza prison hospital, waiting for trial. That trial is set to begin in brief.