Photo via Minutouno

Federal Prosecutor Franco Picardi yesterday requested the assets of Ángelo Calcaterra, President Macri’s cousin, be seized for AR$ 54 million, in the context of a case investigating irregularities in the awarding of the massive public contract to get the Sarmiento train line underground.

At the time the contract was granted – in 2006 – Calcaterra was the head of construction company IECSA, one of the four that got the project, and Picardi suspects representatives from the companies paid bribes to public officials to make that happen. After news of the investigation surfaced, Calcaterra left IECSA and the company sold its stake in the project to another Argentine company, Sacde.

Picardi also requested José López and Ricardo Jaime, officials from the former administrations involved in the awarding of the contract who are already in prison, accused and convicted of defrauding the public administration in many other cases, also have their assets seized for AR$ 4 million each. Although in their case, they are already defendants in so many investigations that it is quite unlikely they still have assets that have not been seized as a result of a judicial order.

The prosecutor also requested other 19 people involved in the project have their assets seized. Head of Italian company Ghella and a representative of the infamous Brazilian construction company Odebrecht are among them. Let’s recall the government forced Odebrecht to sell its stake in the project after representatives working in the country admitted to paying bribes for at least AR$ 35 million in the country in exchange for state contracts.

These revelations took place in the context of the world scandal in which it was revealed the company systematically paid bribes to public officials in the countries where the company operated. However, in this case it sold its stake in the Sarmiento project to Ghella, also under the spotlight.

Taking Odebrecht’s precedent into account, it would not be strange for Ghella to be forced to sell its stake, which now amounts to 70 percent of the project, should it be found guilty of the suspected financial crime. However, Picardi requested the project continue being undertaken during the course of the investigation, but a government representative be assigned to oversee it. It will now be up to Federal Judge Marcelo Martínez de Giorgi to uphold the prosecutor’s claim and move forwards with his requests.