Former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her son Máximo might have been hoping for a calm end of the year. Both have been removed from the center of the political scene for awhile now. By Cristina’s own standards at least — she has refrained from making her usual incendiary comments about political juncture or denouncing injustice in the corruption cases against her for days now. Maximo, on his end, let former Economy Minister Axel Kicillof take the lead as the Victory Front’s (FpV) voice in endless negotiations over the income tax reform’s fate.
That’s probably not going to happen, because Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio yesterday ordered an intervention on the Kirchner family’s real estate company called “Los Sauces S.A” in addition to the larger estate of late President Néstor Kirchner after detecting irregularities in the operations of both. Máximo and Cristina have been formally charged in the case.
It’s important to clarify that according to the Argentine judicial system a deceased person’s estate is granted legal personhood, in a similar way as the US court system views corporations as being individual entities with some of the legal rights of human persons. The management of an estate resembles that of a company and has a legal administrator who is mostly in charge of making sure its assets do not lose value, investing them if necessary. Usually family members take care of this, as was the case of Máximo with his late father’s inheritance. Well, until now.
The judge’s decision is aimed at Máximo — and potentially his mother — who could continue committing the alleged economic crimes they have been accused of through the real estate company with, among other sources, money from their inheritance. In his ruling, Bonadio argues that he discovered a series of transactions among those charged that could be “laundering of assets with illegal origins.”
The real estate company will now have a “judicial administrator” who will have to report all transfers and the payments received or made by the company. The main focus will be on the companies belonging to business people with ties to the Kirchners — Lázaro Báez and Cristóbal López — who are believed to have received embezzled money through state contracts and then used it to rent real estate to Los Sauces as a way to help the Kirchners launder it.
The judge concluded this was a legally viable hypothesis after finding out that an important percentage of the money that went into Los Sauces’s coffers came from 93 checks signed by Lázaro Báez’s son, Martín, as head of two companies he heads. However, it’s not clear what real estate the company rented, prompting the money laundering theory, Clarín reports.
Austral Constructions — Lázaro Báez’s flagship company — paid AR $267,699 between January and October 2015 in “rents” that were have not specified or substantiated.
As for the inheritance, Bonadio ordered its bank account be frozen and also appointed an official to intervene and inform the court about the money transactions it made to Los Sauces. So far, an investigation from the fiscal crimes unit reveal that the estate’s account made two transactions to the family company for AR $3.8 million.