Months ago, as part of the region’s largest financial scandal, Odebrecht company’s financial operations specialist, Leonardo Meirelles, was sentenced by a Brazilian court in the so-called “Lava Jato” investigation (often referred to as Operation Carwash by the English speaking media), which revealed deep levels of corruption across the Brazilian political system. He accepted a plea bargain during his case and consequently provided documentation to the investigation detailing thousands of transfers he made to Odebrecht and other Brazilian companies.
Meirelles testified yesterday before Argentine Federal Prosecutor Federico Delgado regarding the illegal operations that he conducted in the country on Odebrecht’s behalf. Delgado is investigating whether the Brazilian company paid bribes to obtain contracts from the Argentine government during the second presidency of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Back then, the official in charge of assigning public works was Planning Minister Julio De Vido.
However, the main man affected by these alleged operations so far is not a former Kirchnerite official, but the current head of the Federal Intelligence Agency, Gustavo Arribas.
According to press, Meirelles said he remembered Arribas and that he transferred him a total sum of US $850,000 over ten separate transactions. This clashes head on with Arribas’s defense, as he had admitted to receiving money from Meirelles, but assured that it was payment for US$ 70,495, and put it down to the sale of a property in Brazil.
The case against Arribas began in January, as a result of a collaborative journalistic project headed by Peruvian team IDL Reporters managed to obtain copies of the documentation and La Nación, which also played a part. The documents alleged that Meirelles had made transfers totalling US $594,518 to Gustavo Arribas.
In this case, it is suspected that the money that Arribas received could have been bribes to ensure that the consortium made up of Odebrecht, Argentine company IECSA – belonging Angelo Calcaterra, Mauricio Macri’s cousin – Spainish COSMA and Italian Ghella kept the contract for the Sarmiento underground train project.
Arribas, backed by the government, immediately denied the allegations and appeared before a special committee before Congress to present his defense. However, National Deputy and co-founder of the Cambiemos coalition, Elisa Carrió, pressed criminal charges against Arribas in order to get him to legally clarify his situation.
Even though Prosecutor Delgado insisted on investigating the allegations, Judge Sebastián Casanello decided to shut down the investigation, arguing there was not enough evidence to find Arribas responsible for a crime. Delgado appealed the decision, but court of appeals prosecutor Germán Moldes didn’t back the request. However, the case remains open because Sergio Rodríguez, head of the internal affairs office, appealed the decision as well.
Government officials told Infobae that Arribas will only address the issue once he officially learns the content of Meirelles’s testimony — the statements that surfaced were revealed by media outlets. However, they anticipated that “same as any other of our officials, if he’s called in by a judge or prosecutor, he will of course collaborate, as all other Argentine citizens are obligated to.”