Update: Former Vice President Amado Boudou was sentenced to five years and ten months in prison after being found guilty of racketeering and incompatible negotiations for a public official in the so-called “Ciccone” case. The tribunal also determined he will be banned from holding public office for the rest of his life and fined him AR $90,000. He will be taken to the Ezeiza Federal Prison Complex this afternoon.
Moreover, Judges Pablo Bertuzzi, Néstor Costabel, María Gabriela López Iñiguez, and Jorge Gorini decided to order his immediate detention, meaning he will continue fighting his case while behind bars.
Perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of the ruling is the fact that the judges ordered his immediate detention. This is a departure from other corruption cases involving public officials, who have been found guilty but let free until receiving a definitive sentence. Since the judicial process in Argentina is extremely slow, most were (and are) out of prison for years while appealing their sentences to superior courts.
The most illustrative case of all is former President Carlos Menem, who was accused in 1995 – while he was still in office – of illegal arms sales to Ecuador and Croatia. Despite 23 years and three tribunals confirming his guilt, the case still lacks a firm ruling, as the former President still has not yet exhausted all of his legal resources.
José María Nuñez Carmona, Boudou’s business partner and friend, was sentenced to five years and six months in prison. He was also arrested immediately. Nicolás Ciccone, the original owner of the company, was sentenced to four years and six months, but got house arrest.
Alejandro Vandenbroele, considered to have been Boudou’s front-man, got a virtual slap on the wrist. Vandenbroele had taken a plea bargain and gave relevant information that allowed the judicial officials to strengthen their cases against Boudou and the others in exchange for a reduction in his sentence. He was sentenced to two years of prison “en suspenso,” meaning he won’t actually serve time. He was also sentenced to three years of community service.
Former Vice President Amado Boudou had the chance to deliver a final address regarding his alleged involvement in the so-called “Ciccone” case, before hearing the tribunal’s sentence today. Just as in every phase of the trial, Boudou denied having committed any crimes and assured there is no proof to find him guilty.
Moreover, he argued that the investigation was actually orchestrated by concentrated powers to “teach him a lesson” for trying to “change things”: “[Their goal] is for no one to dare change things. The politicians who benefit the powerful don’t have any problems. But those who decide to transform reality are initially persecuted through the media, and then by the judiciary,” he said.
The former VP under Cristina Fernández de Kirchner stands accused of appropriating the printing company that gives the case its name, the only private enterprise with the ability to print currency and other government-issued documents in the country, in order to award it State contracts. Boudou has been charged with “incompatible negotiations for a public official and embezzlement of public funds.”
Other accused in the case are Boudou’s business partner, José María Núñez Carmona; Alejandro Vandenbroele, accused of being Boudou’s front-man (who tried and failed to negotiate a plea deal); owner of the printing company, Nicolás Ciccone; Guido Forcieri, a close aide of Boudou; and Rafael Resnick Brenner, who worked at the AFIP tax agency when the crimes were allegedly committed.
In another passage of his address, Boudou again denied having appropriated the company “himself or through third parties,” and argued that even his alleged front-man said so: “Vandenbroele said there was no embezzlement, that the company was not given to me and that there was no negotiation between Mr. Ciccone and myself, neither personally nor through third parties,” said Boudou, who went on to point out that “Vandenbroele was clear: he said ‘These businessmen are behind the purchase [of the company].”
Boudou could be the first former public official of such a caliber to actually serve time behind bars, as one of the plaintiffs in the case requested for him to be sent to prison despite the fact that he will have the opportunity to appeal the ruling.