The judiciary has found US $4.664 million in one of two safety deposit boxes belonging to Florencia Kirchner, daughter of former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. After verifying the contents of the boxes, one of which was empty, Judge Julián Ercolini ordered them to be sealed again. Florencia and Cristina consider this a victory against those pressing charges against them because the amount of dollars in the boxes matches the amount that they declared on Monday.
According to La Nación, the money was found in one of the safes, which contained two smaller ones inside, and some of the dollars within showed evidence of coming from the US.
Ercolini had ordered the safety deposit boxes be opened in the context of the Hotesur Case. Hotesur is a company that managed the hotels in Santa Cruz Province that belong to the Kirchner family. Initially flagged for not paying taxes, later investigations refocused the case around an alleged money laundering scheme by businessman Lázaro Baez, who rented two rooms in one of the hotels for two years for AR $15 million without ever actually occupying them.
Last week, National Deputy and Progressive Front leader Margarita Stolbizer — one of the main plaintiffs in the Hotesur Case — formally accused Cristina of having undeclared assets worth US $5 million in safety deposit boxes in various local banks. She also accused Florencia of having an undeclared bank account worth US $1 million. Cristina later presented a written statement saying that she was being politically persecuted and would press charges against Stolbizer.
The results of the search were considered a victory for Florencia and Cristina, because they had said that there were US $2.23 million in one box and US $ 2.41 in the other, with a total of US $ 4.664 million dollars. The fact that their contents reflected what they had said meant that Stolbizer was wrong to say that there was an additional amount worth AR $69 million in the boxes. Florencia has insisted that Stolbizer’s claims that the money in the safety deposits were undeclared are false.
However, Stolbizer stated that “[her legal team] weren’t off by that much,” and clarified that she never said that there were another AR $69 million there, only the dollars. She also told La Nación that the US $4.664 million plus the US $1 million in Florencia’s savings account still total more money than Cristina had declared during her presidency.
Some allegedly suspicious financial movements also came to light in Florencia’s accounts in the past months: according to an investigation carried out by Clarín, Florencia withdrew US $40,000 from her savings account last week from Galicia bank on the same day that Judge Bonadio ordered Cristina’s assets be frozen. In addition, on March 3rd, there was allegedly a registered cash withdrawal of US $1.125 million, leaving a remaining US $1.6 million in the account. Earlier that day, the same account had received US $1.6 million from a private account.
The Kirchners’ lawyer, Carlos Beraldi, has published a press release stating that they will be pressing charges against Ercolini:
“Despite having expressly asked for Judge Ercolini to guarantee that the process take place with the due discretion established in the procedural norms, once again photographs of the investigation were revealed. [There will thus] be new charges [pressed] to determine [his] responsibility [in the] media spectacle,” concludes the press release.
Florencia had explicitly asked for the boxes to be searched “swiftly” yesterday in order to “stop the media circus.”