Aida Ayala. Photo via Infobae

Patricio Sabadini, a federal prosecutor in the province of Chaco, requested yesterday that Cambiemos National Deputy Aida Ayala be arrested for allegedly having participated in a money laundering scheme. The Prosecutor also requested that another four people suspected of being involved be arrested as well.

Ayala was mayor of the provincial capital of Resistencia for 12 years until 2015, when she competed in the gubernatorial elections and lost to Domingo Peppo. However, she went on to work at the national Executive Branch, as the Interior Ministry’s Secretary of Municipal Affairs. She left that post on December 10 last year, to take her seat as a national deputy.

According to the prosecutor, Ayala, along with other associates, created private companies in order to award them public contracts by using their influence in the administration of Resistencia. Contracts that, predictably, were artificially inflated. The most relevant case involves a company that was paid AR $ 500 million to collect the city’s garbage until 2023.

However, even if Federal Judge Zunilda Niremperger upholds the prosecutor’s request, Ayala would not be arrested immediately, given the parliamentary immunity her current post guarantees her. First, Niremperger should request her peers at the Lower House strip her from it, and only if that happens will she be able to order the deputy be put behind bars, after questioning her.

Ayala has already manifested her intention of collaborating with the investigation, and claims she is innocent. “I will collaborate with the courts like I always have. It is not the first time [something like this] happens to me, I have been through many similar situations throughout my political life and, as a public official, I have always subjected myself to legal controls and requirements,” she said.