The judicial system of Misiones Province has requested that Interpol put out a blue notice on Jorge Oscar Chueco, a lawyer close to businessman Lázaro Báez who could be involved in the biggest money laundering case in Argentina’s history. Chueco has been missing since April 14th and is considered a potential key player in the investigation due to his alleged involvement. However, it should be clarified that there are no charges leveled against him and it is still unclear whether his disappearance points to escape, kidnapping or something else entirely.
Security Minister Patricia Bullrich claimed that the fact that “a key person in a current judicial process should disappear, escape or appear dead” was “very serious.”
Her Security Ministry has come under fire for “not preventing” Chueco from going missing given that he potentially is an important figure in the Lázaro Báez Case. In addition, after the controversial statements of accountant Leonardo Fariña, also deeply involved in the money laundering scandal, news arose that federal Judge Sebastián Casanello had ordered Border Patrol and the coast guard to keep an eye on Chueco, which only intensified criticisms against the Ministry.
However, Security Minister Patricia Bullrich clarified today that there is no arrest warrant for Chueco:
“We didn’t follow [him] because we did not have an order to do so […] If we followed someone without a warrant, that would be illegal spying,” said Bullrich in an interview with Radio Mitre.
Why is Chueco so important? Chueco was allegedly the “legal brains” behind the money laundering scheme headed by Lázaro Báez, according to Fariña, who was the “accounting brain.” He bought SGI, known as “La Rosadita,” a financial company through which Lázaro Báez would allegedly launder money in and out of Argentina, and then transferred the shares to a Swiss company. He was supposed to testify before Judge Casanello regarding the investigation this week.
What happened? Chueco allegedly went to Iguazú in Misiones Province (home to the famous Iguazú Falls) on his own and subsequently disappeared. According to reports, last week his wife Patricia received a phone call from him telling her that he planned on committing suicide and that he was leaving money for her in a hotel. Police raids on Friday in the St. George Hotel and the hostel Los Helechos, where Chueco had stayed, turned up US $44,000, AR $ 1,000 and a letter supposedly pointing towards a suicide.
There are many conjectures and hypotheses on Chueco’s whereabouts and the reasons for his disappearance. His wife believes that he is in danger while the Misiones police have disregarded the suicide hypothesis. Others, such as Bullrich, think he may have escaped in order to avoid facing the justice system:
“We’re searching for [Chueco] around the border separating Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, where he could have gone anywhere. You can even cross on foot to Brazil. He had money, so he could have found the means to do so,” said Bullrich.