This morning, Argentines woke up to an explosive new development that involved a massive corruption scheme that allegedly took place during the Néstor and Cristina Kirchner administrations. Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio, who has been overseeing the investigation, ordered the detention of at least 15 people reportedly involved and many more are likely to follow suit as the day progresses.
Those arrested include public officials who stand accused of receiving bribes by business leaders to award profitable public works primarily in the energy and construction sectors to the highest bidder.
The investigation of this widespread corruption scandal is the result of exhaustive, highly in-depth reporting conducted by journalists from La Nación, beginning in March after journalists Diego Cabot, Candela Ini, and Santiago Nasra got ahold of eight notebooks that contained a detailed record of the bribe payments between 2008 and 2015.
Who’s Who in the Scandal: Detained Government Officials & Associates
The Planning Ministry’s former Secretary of Coordination and Administration, Barrata was the highest-profile official arrested today.
As the number two figure in the Federal Planning Ministry, Barrata was one of the government officials closest to the former Planning Minister Julio de Vido, who is currently in pre-trial arrest himself since last year for a separate corruption case.
One of the most exalted officials in the energy industry, Barrata was a taxi driver only fifteen years ago. Then, one day he ran into former president Néstor Kirchner upon walking into a bar in Barrio Norte. Barrata took a shot, walked up to the Kirchner, and asked him for a job. Kirchner, still a presidential candidate at the time, put Barrata into contact with Julio de Vido, who hired Barrata and then quickly incorporated him into his inner circle.
From then, Barrata’s rise was rapid. In no time, he was handling millions as Vido’s right hand man. He managed a large part of Argentina’s relationship with Venezuela, with all fuel imports from the country to Argentina passing through his office. He also controlled the state oil company Enarsa, and the electric wholesaler Cammesa, two corporations which he used as shell companies to launder money and gain power, wealth and influence.
After the Kirchners were ousted from power and Mauricio Macri assumed the presidency in December 2015, Baratta lost all political power and leverage—especially as Cristina Kirchner herself is increasingly investigated for corruption and power abuses.
He had been detained since October 2017 in a separate corruption case, but was released when the First Chamber of the Federal Chamber of Buenos Aires announced a lack of sufficient evidence. Today, he was the highest-ranking official rounded up at his apartment and arrested in the explosive morning events.
Centeno was the private chauffeur for Barrata at the Federal Ministry of Planning. He was arrested after his wife reported him for transporting bags of laundered money along with Baratta.
Nelson Lazarte, Rafael Llorens, Hugo Martín Larraburu
Lazarte was Barrata’s former Secretary the Federal Ministry of Planning, Llorens is the former Legal Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Planning, and Larraburu was the former secretary of Juan Manuel Abal Medina in the Cabinet Office of Ministers.
All three were accused of being actively complicit and profiting from Baratta’s illegal activities in the ongoing corruption investigation.
Who’s Who in the Scandal: Detained Businessmen
Ferreyra is the owner of Electroingeniería, one of the companies that grew the most rapidly during the Kirchner administrations, allegedly as a result of a number of a number of public works projects granted to them after they illegally paid large sums of money to officials at the Federal Ministry of Planning.
Manager at Electroingeniería, who worked closely with Ferreyra.
Javier Sánchez Caballero
Caballero is the General Manager of IECSA, which has also been implicated in the corruption scandal. The company was previously owned by President Mauricio Macri’s cousin, Ángelo Calcaterra.
Carlos José Mundin
Implicated in the bribery scandal, Mundin is part of the leadership at BTU, an Argentine company dedicated to the development and execution of engineering, construction, assembly and commissioning projects, mainly in the areas of Energy, Oil & Gas and Communication Roads.
The former president of the Argentine Chamber of Construction, Wagner now works at the Argentine construction company Esuco. He is accused of being the main connection between the team working for then Minister Julio de Vido and the construction company Odebrecht, facilitating illegal bribes between the two.
Most recently, he was quoted denying all allegations: “What they are saying is false. I don’t even know those three Odebrecht executives,” Wagner stated, referring to the businessmen with whom he is said to have colluded while at the Planning Ministry.
Currently a well-known executive at Pescarmona Industries, Valenti formerly worked at the Argentine tech company IMPSA. While there, he is accused of frequently cooperating with Baratta to coordinate the paying-off of government officials by a number of different businessmen in exchange for lucrative public works projects. He is said to have reportedly had various meetings with Barrata and Centeno, Baratta’s former driver, in the basement of a hotel on Esmeralda Street.
Fagya is the former president of Enarsa, the state oil company under Baratta’s control during his time in public office. Barrata used Enarsa as a shell company to conceal bribes, launder money, and gain power and influence during the Kirchner administrations.
Losón has been the president of the Albanesi Group for 40 years, a lucrative holding company in Argentina that experienced sales of some US $12.311 billion in 2016, and had investments planned for the next two years of some US $611 million.
He has also been implicated in the corruption scandal, although as of now the role he played is still unclear.
Glazman is the director of Sociedad Latinoamericana de Inversiones S.A. The role he played in the bribery scandal is also currently unclear.
Who’s Who in the Scandal: Those Still At Large
While a number of businessmen and former government officials were already arrested today, three who are implicated in the scandal remain at large and are currently being sought by the police. These include:
Fabian García Ramón
Former director of Promotion of Renewable Energies.
Former advisor at the Federal Ministry of Planning.
Former executive director of Yacyretá.
As of now, the ongoing investigation is predicted by many to reach the highest officials of the Kirchner administrations, most of whom were once thought to be untouchable.
Cristina Kirchner, meanwhile, has remained silent throughout the ongoing scandal.